As a special education attorney I approach everything as if the parties will end up in front of a judge, administrative or otherwise. As a mediator I am a big proponent of voluntary conflict resolution. Balancing the two mindsets can be an effective way to advocate for your child without sacrificing the relationship with the school. So, if we are going to put forth our “case” then what do we need to show? What is our evidence?
20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1) requires, in part, that IEPs contain a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, a statement of measurable goals, and a description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the goals will be measured. The school is required to provide progress reports throughout the year, quarterly or in conjunction with the issuance of report cards. Progress must be measured using objective means, not subjective means.
If you believe your child’s special education program is not helping your child make progress you will need to assemble evidence in the form of data from testing done. I make a request to the school for all progress reports, test scores, and work samples. I organize these records so I can determine if appropriate progress monitoring is being done. If time permits, and objective data is missing from the educational records, I will write the school before the IEP to ask that this information be gathered before the IEP. Sometimes, due to time constraints, you have to appear at the IEP and request objective data.
You do not have to be an expert to look at the data and determine whether your child is making progress. Comparing data before and after the implementation of an IEP will help you understand whether or not your child is making progress. I typically use the bell curve and percentile ranks. This information can be put into a chart so you can easily reference it.
I often find that heavy case loads prevent school staff from going to this degree of analysis. As an equal part of the IEP team, it is appropriate for you to present this information at the IEP. The IEP team is usually receptive to considering the data. If they aren’t, don’t give up. Trust the data and advocate for your child.
If you would like assistance reviewing your child’s file, please contact Kristin Springer at (925) 551-1041. Below is information regarding my fees to complete a file review.
Document Request, File and IEP Review, and Recommendations: $350.00
Once a fee agreement is signed, I will ask that you execute a Release of Information so that I am able communicate directly with the school.
Upon receiving your child’s educational file I ask that you provide a copy to me. I will review it to determine if there are any obvious documents missing. In my experience, schools often only provide a portion of the child’s educational record. I will prepare a letter to the school to request additional records that should be a part of the educational file. Your child’s educational file is extremely important to your participation at your child’s IEP.
Next I will review your child’s educational file in more detail. This typically takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I will be looking at:
- What are the students present levels of performance?
- Are the goals measurable?
- Has the child been placed in the least restrictive environment?
- Are the services related to the goals?
- Are there any identifiable violations of the child’s free and appropriate public education?
I will schedule a 30 minute phone conference with the family to discuss any questions regarding their child’s educational file. During this call I will give you my initial impressions of your child’s educational file.
Once we complete our phone conference I will prepare a summary of my impressions and recommendations. This usually takes about an hour. We will set up an additional 30 minute phone conference to discuss my impressions and recommendations. This completes the file review process.
(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page- https://specialedlegaljourney.com/about/disclaimer/)