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10 Tips for Ending the School Year
by Pat Howey, Advocate

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young girl waves goodbye from school bus 1. Visit the new school or classroom.

Will your child make a major transition next fall? Will your child be moving from preschool to kindergarten, from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school? Plan to take your child to visit the new school or classroom before the first day of school.

2. Review your child’s IEP and progress.

Did your child make progress this school year? Did the school properly implement the IEP? Does the IEP adequately address your child’s needs? Do your child’s Goals prepare your child for further education, employment, and independent living?

3. Ask for an IEP Team Meeting if necessary.

Did you answer “No” to any of the questions above? Ask for an IEP Team Meeting to resolve these concerns. Do not let another year go by with an inappropriate IEP.

4. Prepare for the IEP Team Meeting.

Prepare a list of your child's present levels of performance. The list includes you child's strengths and the areas that are challenging. Look carefully at this list and you will better understand what your child needs. Add these needs to your list of present levels of performance. You can also add Goals, Related Services, Assistive Technology, and anything else that your list justifies as an educational need.

5. Say "Thank You" to those who helped.

Did your child have a great school year? Was this success due to a wonderful teacher, a helpful classroom aide, or a thoughtful bus driver? Say “thank you” to those who helped your child succeed. Look at what made this a good year for your child. Add that information to the list of your child’s present levels of performance.

6. Give your information list to the IEP Team before the meeting. 

Do not surprise other members of the IEP Team. At least one week before the meeting, give a copy of your list to each member of the IEP Team. Take extra copies to the meeting for anyone who forgets to bring their copy. Your IEP Team Meeting will go faster and smoother if everyone has your list ahead of time.

7. Ask for a copy of any information that has been given to other members of the IEP Team.

You do not want to be surprised. Ask for copies of all information the IEP Team will discuss. You cannot be a full team member if you are left out of the loop. Ask for things like copies of teacher reports, evaluation reports, and group achievement testing.

8. Ask the IEP Team to address Extended School Year (ESY).

ESY Ask the IEP Team to address ESY early in the second semester. If there is disagreement about whether your child needs an ESY, you will need enough time to resolve this with one of the due process procedures available.

9. Find out what summer educational resources are available for your child.

An ESY is not the same as summer school. Summer School is usually a generic program that is not designed to meet your child’s individual needs. An ESY program is intended to meet the specific educational needs of your child as identified in his or her IEP. Make sure you know what services the school is offering!

10. Determine whether your child needs a new evaluation.

Does your child need new evaluations? Are you unsure whether your child has made adequate progress? Achievement testing at the beginning and end of every year will give objective answers about your child’s progress. (See Chapter 8, Your Child’s Evaluation, in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition).

More Tips for Parents

10 Tips for Good Advocates

10 Tips for a Successful School Year

10 Tips for Schools on Avoiding Confrontation with Parents

10 Tips for Parents: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice

10 Tips: How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child's Special Education

14 Tips for Reviewing Your Child's Educational Record

18 Tips on Filing Complaints

IEP Tips: Taping Meetings

IEP Tips: What to Do at an IEP Meeting

 More Resources for Parents

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy has a companion website at Fetaweb.com.

Getting Started

Part 1 of the book is Getting Started. Go to Getting Started for articles about the basic skills of parent advocacy.

Advocating for Your Child - Getting Started. Good special education services are intensive and expensive. Resources are limited. If you have a child with special needs, you may wind up battling the school district for the services your child needs. To prevail, you need information, skills, and tools.

Assertiveness and Effective Parent Advocacy. Short article by parent and advocate Marie Sherrett describes joys and challenges of parent advocacy.

Planning and Preparation: Keys to Successful Advocacy. Learn why planning and preparation are important; learn about the parent's role as special education project manager.

Advocacy 101

The second section of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy is Advocacy 101.

In Advocacy 101, you learn about gatekeepers, special education teams, and one-size-fits-all (OSFA) programs. When you learn the rules of the game, you will be a more effective advocate and negotiator for your child. (Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, page 21). Here are a few articles from Advocacy 101:

Learning the Rules of the Game - Learn why parents and schools have different perspectives, what to do when disagreements turn into power struggles, how to use your power wisely, the dangers of making threats, how to deal with IEP meeting frustrations, and more.

From Emotions to Advocacy: The Parent's Journey. Classic article about dealing with your child's disability and how to manage your emotions.

Special Education Advocacy

You will find dozens of useful articles about special education advocacy on the Wrightslaw site - click here.

9 Ways to Boost Your Child's Attitude Before the Bus Arrives - What can you do before your children leave for school to help them feel that they can conquer anything? These no-nonsense pointers from Jackie Igafo-Te'o will help you eliminate a large portion of last-minute stress that comes with every weekday morning.

Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do - and Not Do. Good advice from attorney Leslie Margolis about steps parents can take to get quality educational services for their children with disabilities.

When Parents & Schools Disagree. Educational consultant Ruth Heitin describes common disagreements between parents and schools and offers suggestions about how to handle these disagreements.

About Pat Howey

Pat HoweyPat Howey is an advocate who has helped parents obtain special education services and resolve special education disputes.

As a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Pat provides training for parents, educators, and others who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services
.

Read more of Pat's answers to questions submitted by people just like you in Wrightslaw's Ask the Advocate section.

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

Revised: 03/22/12

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