Crisis Management:
Managing Disagreements with the School

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February 19 , 2008

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 423
Subscribers: 57,428

In This Issue:

Help! Events That Trigger a Crisis

The 3 "P"s of Resolving Disputes

Wrightslaw Prevention Model of Special Education Advocacy

How to Disagree with the IEP Team ... Without Starting WW III

Training Advocates:
Partners in Policymaking

Wrightslaw WebEx Training

Understanding Your Child's
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starMore Helpful Resources

Strategies to Find a Support or Study Group
When Parents and School Disagree
Parent Advocacy, What You Should & Should Not Do
Ask the Advocate

Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043



Copyright 2008, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your website without explicit permission.

A school crisis hits!

Perhaps the school decided that your child does not really have a disability - his conduct is the true problem. The team unilaterally changed his label, program and placement.

Perhaps the school decided to retain your child because she hasn't been taught the skills she must master before moving on to the next grade.

These are crises. You feel frightened, confused, guilty, angry, and helpless. Suddenly, you find that your common sense and good judgment have vanished.

What should you do?

During a crisis, your first response is likely to be a big mistake! But a crisis has two sides: danger and opportunity.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you will learn how to manage a conflict or crisis with the school and how to avoid common pitfalls. We provide crisis management techniques and long-term planning strategies you can use to weather the storm.

Don't hesitate to forward this issue about crisis management tips to your friends and colleagues.

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Help! Events That Trigger a Crisis

Because you want quality special education services for your children, parent-school conflict is normal, predictable . . . and inevitable.

Have you found yourself in a conflict or crisis situation?

We receive requests for help from parents who are in crisis because the school:

  • Placed the child in a less desirable program, despite objections by the parent;
  • Refused to change the child’s program and placement, despite recommendations from a private sector professional that the current program is not appropriate;
  • Refused to consider or include test results and recommendations from a private sector expert in the child’s IEP;
  • Refused to provide accommodations and modifications which caused the child to fail the high-stakes tests ... more triggers

If a crisis or conflict with the school may be on your horizon, read Crisis Management, Step-by-Step. You'll find find out what to expect, how to resolve a conflict, and how to prevent a small problem from escalating into a major battle.

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The 3 "P"s of Resolving Disputes

When a crisis hits, you feel helpless and emotionally overwhelmed. If you believe you must do something, resist this urge!

The key to resolving special disputes is:

  • preparation
  • preparation
  • more preparation

As a parent, your goals are to prevent problems when possible and to minimize the seriousness of problems you cannot prevent.

Do you start a fight when you have no ammunition? No! Do you start a fight before you know where the high ground is? No! You do not start a fight until you have a good chance of prevailing.

The Wrightslaw Prevention Model of Special Education Advocacy

Read Crisis Management, Step-by-Step to learn more about the Wrightslaw Prevention Model of Special Education Advocacy.

Where do you start?

In Crisis Management, Step-by-Step you'll learn how to use a crisis as an opportunity. You must take steps to improve your child’s educational situation. This article introduces eight strategies for parents to use to prevent or minimize a crisis or conflict with the school.

  1. Begin a Program of Self-Study
  2. Join a Support or Study Group
  3. Learn About Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities
  4. ... the next steps
Click here to find resources that provide information about your child's disability, programs and services, and research-based information about effective practices for children with disabilities.

This model shows you how to use strategies to get the services your child needs, without going to war with the school.

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How to Disagree with the IEP Team Without Starting WW III

Speaking of wars ...

In How to Disagree with the IEP Team, Pete Wright answers your questions about IEPs and how to disagree with the IEP team without starting a war. Learn about the Rules of Adverse Assumptions, how to use tape recordings and thank you letters to clarify issues, and how to deal with an IEP team bully.

What would you do if the school presented you with an IEP that is not appropriate for your child? Pete Wright offers this advice:

"You should advise the IEP team that you don’t think the IEP is appropriate, that it does not provide your child with enough help or the right kind of help. You should use facts to support your position (i.e., facts from an evaluation of your child from a private sector evaluator, graphs of your child's test scores).

"Be polite but firm. Think how Miss Manners handles difficult situations and use this to guide you."

Read more advice in How to Disagree with the IEP Team.

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Training Advocates to Step Up to Leadership Roles

partners in Policymaking step upPete and Pam just returned from Richmond, VA where they provided legal and advocacy training to the 2007-08 class of Partners in Policymaking-VA.

Are you interested in state-of-the-art advocacy training and best practices skill building workshops? Find out more about Partners in Policymaking (PIP) . PIP participants network with state and national leaders and each other.

Contact Partners in Policymaking in your state for more information about the training program. If you live in VA, you can apply now for the Class of 2009 for Partners in Policymaking-VA.

To learn more about becoming an advocate, read So You Want to Be an Advocate by Pat Howey, Indiana advocate from Special Education Consulting and author of articles in Ask the Advocate.

Find more advocacy articles in the Wrightslaw Advocacy Library.

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What People Are Saying About The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter

"Thanks for the trustworthy information and support you provide through the Wrightslaw website and newsletter. You helped our family act when we needed to - we are thriving now."


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