Note: This post was written by a guest author.
Suspecting that your child has a Learning Disability can feel very daunting. You think to yourself, “where do I go from here, who can help me, what’s the next step.” Often, parents don’t know what role they play in developing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for their child. Read the article below to help get your bearings; and as always feel free to call our office at 440.914.0200 with any questions or for an IEP consultation.
Reprinted with permission from the Learning Disabilities Association of Cuyahoga County
Federal law regarding children with learning disabilities has made the parent an equal partner with school districts at every level of the education process. The parent is often the least prepared for this role. The procedures used by school districts in Ohio may be foreign to parents.
If a Learning Disability is suspected, the parent or school district employee may request an evaluation for Learning Disabilities. When this occurs, an evaluation must be done to determine if there is such a disability.
The PARENT is now a member of the first team – the evaluation team. That parent may not know what the requirements are to complete such a process, what paperwork is required by the state, what tests are done or could be done to cover all aspects of LD, and the parent may not realize the importance of the information they have about their child. While parent information is not in “educational” terms, it has a relationship to what is required.
A “curve” in the journey may occur if the school team does not agree that a child has a Learning Disability after the evaluation is completed. The parent may not know that they have options and rights or that additional testing can be done. An independent evaluation can be done. There are steps that can be taken without legal expense before legal hearings occur.
After the evaluation is completed, if LD is identified, the next team moves into place (usually many of the same people participate) called the IEP team. The PARENT is now part of the second team – the IEP team. That parent may not know that a decision must be made about whether the child needs Special Education or what factors can be used to demonstrate a need for an IEP. What IS an IEP and what are the parts to it? What is the parent contribution to this since they are not educators? What additions and subtractions to this IEP at parent request are allowable?
The school members of this IEP team may determine that there is no need for Special Education. The parent may not know that they may have valuable information to the contrary and how to present it. What is happening for the child in school at the time may already indicate a need. Information about outside activities may have importance, such as homework.
Only after an IEP is developed is another team introduced into the process – the placement team. The parent is now part of a third team. The parent may not know that there is more than one option and how to decide if the option is appropriate so that the IEP can be implemented. A regular education classroom may not be the only option available.
It is essential for parents to have information to become true participants with these “teams” for their child in this process called Special Education. The above examples are just some of the important aspects of the journey.