The Guidance Counselor ignored our parental consent form and conducted tests on our daughter against our written instructions, even though she signed the form acknowledging our wishes and concerns. Our rights as parents were totally ignored.
The guidance counselor is listed as a member of our child’s IEP team. After she ignored our requests, my wife and I do not trust her. Can we demand she be excluded from the IEP Team?
We don’t recommend parents demand that an IEP member be excluded. If you demand, you set yourself up for a fall – and the school is likely to view you as unstable. When parents demand, the school is likely to fight to keep from giving in to parental demands.
Request the services your child needs and attempt to keep relationships unemotional and businesslike.
Your goals are to:
- get what your child needs as painlessly as possible, and
- protect parent-school relationships.
This requires a huge amount of self-discipline – more than some people possess. If you can’t keep your emotions under control, you need to get help from an educational advocate or advice from an attorney specializing in this area of law.
Parental demeanor needs to be a blend of Miss Manners (polite) and Peter Columbo (“I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you can / cannot do X, Y, Z to help my child?”).
IEP team members tend to play different roles — the pitbull and bully, the know-it-all, the conflict-avoider, the wet blanket (“that will never work,” snipers, etc. We discuss these personality styles in “dealing with difficult people” in Chapter 5: Obstacles to Success in From Emotions to Advocacy. These personality dynamics are not unique to schools and are present in most bureaucracies.
How to Document Problems
Parents need to document problems and their attempts to resolve problems in polite, factual letters. These letters will become part of your child’s file that can be used later, if necessary. Keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.
If you learn you cannot trust a person, this is important information to have. To paraphrase Sun-Tzu, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.”
Write a Polite Letter
Write a short, polite letter expressing your concern and distress when you learned that the guidance counselor ignored your wishes and tested your child. Her actions are more concerning because she signed the form acknowledging your wishes.
You were under the impression that the school wanted to work cooperatively with parents, not make unilateral decisions against the parents ‘ expressed wishes. You may request their assurance that school personnel will never do this again. (Note: They are unlikely to do this because to grant your request is to acknowledge that what they did was wrong. You are just making your point.)
Send the letter to the person who has power in your school district, i.e., principal, special ed director, superintendent, school board member. You can send your letter to more than one person. Your letter may lead to a reprimand that you never know about. The letter will probably remain in the guidance counselor’s file forever and may make them more cautious in the future.
You’ve learned an important lesson – that many school people think they know what’s best for children and that parents can and should be ignored because they are overly emotional, ignorant, etc.