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Parents Spouting Off – What Options Do You Have?

05/09/11
by Debbie Larson

Upset with the IEP process? Concerned about the constant chaos at IEP meetings? Have trouble maintaining control in your dealings with the school?  Turn that “chronic complainer” label around. Kill them with kindness. Personal notes, treats at meetings, and accentuating the positive first are strategies that will help.

Having Difficulty With Your Child’s Teacher?

  • Is your child struggling in class?
  • Does the teacher think you are blaming her for your child’s difficulties in school?

Consider talking with your child’s teacher so you better understand the teacher’s concerns. Express your concerns. If you find there is reason for her concern, discuss options and listen to her choices.  Document your conversations.  That way, you can refer back to the details and follow up with questions or action.

Sometimes parents who are under pressure “spout off.” They may not know other ways to express their concerns.

On the other hand, teachers may see parents as adversaries.  When someone does not share your professional perspective, it is normal and human to feel defensive.

Control Your Emotions

Take a deeper look. The empowered parent can be a teacher’s best ally.

When you can articulate the issues without bombast and realize the school is hearing your concerns, the chaos may decline.

Again, when parents feel empowered, they get their emotions under control and are less likely to explode.

Parents who spout off, chronically complain, or exhibit overtly aggressive behavior feel powerless to help their child. They feel left out of the team. They believe school personnel see them as less competent than the “professionals.” When parents become involved in the action plan to help their child, it is easier for them to calm down and take advantage of other options.

Can’t Afford an Attorney?

If a parent does not have the money to hire an attorney, there are other options.

For a much smaller amount (though still not cheap) you can consult with a special education attorney. This can result in developing a valuable action plan.

Consider connecting with an advocate from the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids.  Lay people are frequently very well versed in regulations and case law.  They also have the important experience of working directly with parents and districts.  They have been in the trenches and have seen the nitty gritty of special education issues.

If a district is not implementing an IEP, there are complaint processes through your state Education Department or Office for Civil Rights in DC.

I know, from experience, that the processes can be overwhelming and intimidating. If you are persistent enough, you can get results.

If you are like many parents, emotions are your Achilles heel. Learn how to use your emotions as a source of energy and power. Focus on getting an appropriate education for your child – that’s What Advocates Do.

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19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Renee 02/21/13 at 5:52 pm

    HOMESCHOOL!!!!! Want to see your child thrive? Wish for a happy, well adjusted child? Tired of beating your head into a wall? Tired of chasing nickles,wasting dimes… HOMESCHOOL is the answer! Parents, don’t be bamboozled by the “socialization” nonesense arguement. You CAN w/half a functioning brain do a FAR FAR FAR better job than any/ALL factory public school model. Fact is, they ONLY teach to the left brain, it’s all memorization, regurgitation w/a little a** kissing. The easy to teach kids get all the gravey, positive feedback while your great quirky mpaybe right brain learner gets the beans. What kind of life set up is that? Its your child, take your power back. You are the boss, they like it or not WORK FOR YOu.

    I never EVER thought i could homeschool… He’s THRIVING!!!

  • 2 Julie 02/18/13 at 12:58 pm

    Dori–by law they HAVE to have the meeting within that time frame. It is called a “compliance date” and schools can be in huge trouble if they do not hold the meetings within the compliance date. They should have had the meeting, decided on nothing because parent wasn’t there, started another timeline and then had another one when the advocate could be there.

  • 3 K Davis 02/18/13 at 12:36 pm

    Killing with kindness does not always work! I tried that for 3+ yrs. They made the IEP with minimal help. Several time I called meetings, same old thing. My child was almost failing at that school. Then i refused to take no for an answer after getting up on the special ed laws. Then they did a bit more, but not what she needed. With constant bulling at school, she hated school. I wanted her school changed to a nearby school that had what she needed. They kept making excuses, finally A letter was sent to school that if they did not let her transfer, they would be sued. My oldest sent the letter, I don’t know what all was in the letter, but within two weeks we got the transfer and now she makes almost all A’s and is on grade level on all subjects. Mind you I did not get all emotional when dealing with them I was stern and direct.

  • 4 Katy 02/18/13 at 12:36 pm

    It’s the Office FOR Civil Rights , not Office of Civil Rights :)

  • 5 Julie K 06/17/11 at 10:40 pm

    When a school district is not abiding by IEP stipulations, and if IEP meetings are NOT diplomatically run, you should immediately quit messing around with your admin staff (that you pay with your taxes and they need to be reminded of that). File a complaint with your state education agency, and describe your problem. If the school receives certain types of funding, they HAVE to respond in a helpful and timely manner. It works! I’ve done it!
    Once the IEP team knows that you “know the ropes,” things may improve. And if thing don’t improve, continue to contact you state Education Commissioner. I am serious. Good Luck. Remember, they are YOUR children!

  • 6 Dori 05/23/11 at 7:00 pm

    A friend of mine obtained an advocate to attend the annual IEP meeting for one of her children. Notification of the IEP meeting was sent. The advocate stated that she could attend the meeting on a certain date, 10 days after the notice was sent. My friends Spec Ed teacher called her and asked if they could back-date the meeting by 2 days, as the date of the meeting would be 2 days beyond the date allowed for the meeting. My friend told her no. That the advocate couldn’t attend the meeting early and that both were within the 10 day notice range. Today, the teacher CAME TO HER HOUSE and told her they were going to have the meeting 2 days early so they could meet the time requirement. My friend told the teacher no. The teacher said they were having the meeting without her, then. What can she do to protect the child’s rights?

  • 7 Barb S. 05/13/11 at 2:42 pm

    My son is having some of the same issues…wanted to put him organizational classes, rather than pay attention to his severe adhd and severe audiological deficit. He is so humiliated and embarrassed he is now on homebound, because they wanted to give him a one-on-one aide, and all of his classmates harassed him not to come back with an aide. He is full of anxiety because of this and the school does not care. They came back with an IEP with, again, organizational skill classes where they take him out of the class he really likes.

  • 8 Stacey 05/12/11 at 5:48 pm

    A good friend’s son was finally diag. with dyslexia and discalcula/dysgraphia by a private psychologist because district dragged their feet for YEARS and refused repeated reqests from parents for help. District then tested and agreed with psych eval. Then dragged feet implementing IEP and putting him in spec. ed. class. 3 weeks into class he was struggling with the change and so the school punished him by taking him off bball team (this was his first time trying to play sports and he loved it) and also took him out of his only elective class (shop, which he really wanted to take) and put him in an “organizational skills,” class. He feels humiliated and punished. Parents complained to school but they wouldn’t bend, in spite of spec. ed. teacher’s recommendation that he be allowed to stay in both bball and shop. Ideas?

  • 9 Sharon L 05/11/11 at 9:01 am

    Dad2Luke This is tough situation. Remember when a school district refuses to give services they must provide prior written notice and then you have a choice to file a complaint or due process depending on how serious your battle is with them. It is my understanding that it is illegal to provide services based on what is available and/or money. The services must be based on the individual child’s needs and then either the district offers this or finds a way to offer this. You may have to investigate solutions yourself and offer it to the school. They may take it. I found a reading tutor for my dyslexic son from a list provided by the international dyslexic assoc. after proving that the school had not provided FAPE and they hired her to teach my son for 6 years.

  • 10 Pam Wright 05/10/11 at 11:09 pm

    Barb – SusanB is right. The school is setting your son up to fail when he returns to school. Don’t know if it’s intentional or ignorance. It really doesn’t matter right now.

    You’ll increase the odds that they won’t succeed by creating a paper trail – starting now. If you aren’t doing this already, keep a log of conversations, phone calls, etc. Document in writing what happens in meetings. – what you ask for, what you are told – all of it. Use facts, not emotions (that’s the hardest part).

    Go to the Letters & Paper Trails section of Wrightslaw and start reading – everything you need to know is here: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/ltrs.index.htm

    Be sure to read “The Art of Writing Letters” at http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/letters.draft.htm

    Please keep us posted ~ Pam

  • 11 SusanB 05/10/11 at 8:37 pm

    The option is to MAKE YOURSELF AN EXPERT on your child’s disability and on the IDEA. Asking the right questions, documenting EVERY SINGLE MOVE THAT IS MADE AND EVERY WORD THAT IS SPOKEN and I DO MEAN EVERYTHING. If the teacher stops you in the car line to tell you anything, you document that in a thank you note. Parents, think about what you would do if someone was “Columbo Style” documenting every word you spoke and every move you made…you would be more careful with what you said and did! You prepare to file that complaint or go to due process so you DO NOT HAVE TO GO!

  • 12 Mike the psych 05/10/11 at 5:55 pm

    Barb S that sounds awful! You may want to pursue the issue through a complaint about bullying in addition to the school not listening to you and your outside expert’s input. Many states have anti bullying laws and it sounds as though the outside texts have had or likely will impact the learning environment for your son. It really sounds like your problems are at least a mediation or due process level. If you have not already requested due process it may be something to strongly consider at this point. Some districts really don’t want to deal with it and back down whereas others fight over everthing. You do always have the option to revoke consent for special education which would remove that 1on1 aid, but you would lose FAPE, which would be bad. Can the audiological and ADHD supports be delivered through a 504 plan instead of an IEP?

  • 13 Barb S. 05/10/11 at 2:22 pm

    Just had a meeting re/the aide and his schedule for returning. They did not take any of our suggestions, and have presented an impossible reintegration schedule. The principal talked right through, did not listen, and although the aide was there, would not let her answer any of my questions that I directed to her.

  • 14 Sue 05/10/11 at 9:24 am

    The experience has been similar to Dad2Luke and Barb S. Our district has been known to bleed parents dry over small amounts of services.

  • 15 Barb S. 05/09/11 at 6:23 pm

    We have already agreed to all of this…our therapist and psychologist have said that this is not a good idea (one-on-one) and he doesn’t need one, what he needs are supports for his severe ADHD and audiological issues, too, which they will not acknowledge! We have exhausted our possibilites, and, quite frankly, cannot afford to go to due process. My son is terrified to go back to school, he has received texts saying not to come back with a one on one aide because it will make everyone’s life miserable, and they won’t be friends with him anymore, or associate with him anymore. The school says we are fabricating the texts, and coaxing the kids into saying it..there attorney is doing the same.

  • 16 Barb S. 05/09/11 at 4:43 pm

    The exact same thing happens to us. We have hired a lawyer, also (I’m not quite sure why anymore), because they just predetermine what they are going to do and that is final. Unless we want to spend millions to bring it to trial, I fell like we have no chance!

  • 17 Mike the psych 05/09/11 at 4:15 pm

    Barb S it sounds like that your son’s issues are having a social emotional impact on him, with his embarrassment, you may want to consider asking about social work or counseling supports at school. This may spur a reevaluation but it might be a good way to meet you and your son’s concerns and possibly lose that 1 on 1 aid, or at least scale it back.

    Dad2Luke, that is always terrible to hear when a parent’s input has no impact on an IEP. It sounds like your issues are approaching a state complaint level or possibly due process. Although schools have a toolbox of things, things must be individualized to the student’s needs. If you child is failing to adequately progress or you feel IEP goals are insufficient, I would start with calling an IEP meeting, then a letter to the superintendent or director, state complaint, and so on.

  • 18 Dad2Luke 05/09/11 at 2:41 pm

    Our issue with our District is that they are deciding services prior to the IEP meeting based on cost and the available pre-existing programs. Our IEP meetings are pretty civil and you’d think we are talking about deciding where to eat lunch. But in the end we are wasting our time since parental input into the process is limited to nothing of import. Our outside evaluators have presented outside evaluations to a silent room and then the District declares that “consideration” has taken place, and the offer remains as before.

    What does one do to when the response of the District always is “Well that’s very nice, but our offer of FAPE has not changed.”

  • 19 Barb S. 05/09/11 at 11:52 am

    My son was homebound for a few months. He has severe ADHD and an audiological deficit. Teachers were sending him out of the room for turning his head and disrupting the class, among many other things. He is now going back with a very strict IEP, which is embarrassing to him to say the least, but we had him just about convinced to do this until all of his classes were told that he was coming back with a full time aide to watch him closely. The school had told us that the aide would ‘Melt in” and no one would even know. This time around we have been overly kind (even though it has been hard), he needs to be back in school for so many reasons, especially the socialization. How can we nicely tell the school that they blew everything up when they made an announcement to all of his grade’s classes that he was coming back with this aide?