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5 Tips for Navigating Special Education (Part I)

posted Jan 10, 2012, 5:24 AM by Diane Willcutts   [ updated Jan 10, 2012, 5:29 AM ]

1.     If you have not already done so, request in writing a copy of your child’s entire educational record.

2.     Do not go alone to Planning and Placement Meetings (PPTs, formal school meetings related to special education). These can be overwhelming for any parent. Instead, bring a friend or advocate to provide support, to take notes, and/or to help translate what occurred.  One family brought their child's piano teacher, who had great insights about the child and how she learned.

3.     Tape record your meetings. PPTs can be confusing. Listening to the tape afterwards will help you better understand what occurred and will make it easier to document important areas of agreement and disagreement.

4.     When talking with the school team, remove the word “best” from your vocabulary and substitute “appropriate.” The school is not legally required to provide the “best” program. The school is required only to provide an “appropriate” program.

5.     Strive to develop a professional relationship, as an equal, with your school team. Leave your emotions at the door. Getting angry or “venting” may feel great temporarily. However, giving in to this impulse may damage your credibility, may hurt your relationship with school staff, and therefore is likely to harm your child’s program.