By now, your child’s school year is well underway. Grades on the first few tests, quizzes, and writing assignments are coming back. Is your child performing as you expected? Is he/she on the way to meeting the short-term benchmarks and objectives set forth in your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)? Are the supports, services and accommodations listed in the IEP or 504 Plan being implemented? Unless you can confidently answer YES to these questions, it is time for you to take action on your child’s behalf, even if your child’s annual IEP or 504 Plan meeting is several months away.
The first step is to make a list of any deficiencies in supports, services, and accommodations, collect samples of your child’s work, make notes of any difficulty your child is having with schoolwork or homework, and compile a list of questions you have for the IEP team. Next, reach out to your child’s teacher(s), case manager, and/or guidance counselor to schedule a time to meet with them and other members of the IEP team that involve your concerns. The purpose of the meeting should be to express your concerns, show examples of the deficiencies, hear the IEP’s team’s perspective, and come up with a plan moving forward. It is always a good idea to schedule a follow-up meeting within three weeks of this meeting to make sure things are moving as promised.
If you meet resistance from school personnel or if things do not improve, you can always request a formal written request for an IEP or 504 team meeting to change your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. The school district is required to respond to this written request.
If you are a parent/guardian of a child who is struggling in these early weeks of school, but your child does not have an IEP or 504 Plan in place, you too have options. Now is the time to take action. The first step listed above is equally applicable to the child not covered by an IEP or 504 Plan – you should make a list of the deficiencies with examples in your child’s work samples, make notes of any difficulties he/she is having with schoolwork or homework, and make a list of questions you have for your child’s teacher(s) and/or guidance counselor. Schedule a meeting to meet with your child’s teacher(s) and guidance counselor to put a plan in place to address your concerns and support your child. If you, or your child’s teacher(s), suspect that your child may have a disability that qualifies him/her for an IEP or 504 Plan, formally request, in writing, an evaluation by your school’s child study team. The school district is required by law to respond to this request.
For more information or assistance with enforcing your child’s special education rights, call the Special Education Law team at McDowell, Posternock, Apell, and Detrick, P.C. at 856-642-6445 or contact us online. We are here to fight with and for you and your child.