To parents with children with special needs,
Yes I know, you're worried...so am I. What does education for our disability community look like now? Will our students receive the support and services they need to succeed? Do our children take priority when decisions are being made? The questions swarm as we look at new leadership and possible changes...but let's talk about your power.
Under IDEA, parent involvement is encouraged greatly. Here are the parental rights granted under IDEA:
"The right of parents to receive a complete explanation of all the procedural safeguards available under IDEA and the procedures in the state for presenting complaints
Confidentiality and the right of parents to inspect and review the educational records of their child
The right of parents to participate in meetings related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE (a free appropriate public education) to their child
The right of parents to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of their child
The right of parents to receive “prior written notice” on matters relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE to their child
The right of parents to give or deny their consent before the school may take certain action with respect to their child
The right of parents to disagree with decisions made by the school system on those issues
The right of parents and schools to use IDEA’s mechanisms for resolving disputes, including the right to appeal determinations" (Click here to be directed to this page)
Parental participation is key in your child's education. Ask questions, push for answers and explanations, and make sure your child is receiving the services he or she needs in order to have the best quality of education possible. While there is a fear in the disability community over national leadership, remember that many things happen at a local level. Not only is a parent encouraged to attend IEP meetings and alike that help chose how their child learns, they also have the right to participate in evaluation meetings that determine a child's eligibility for special education services. It is important that parents have their voices heard and are actively engaged in the conversation. If these meetings are overwhelming or you feel your voice isn't heard, bring an advocate. It is completely legal to have someone else join the conversation on behalf of your child and family to make sure the right questions are being raised in this conversation. Most importantly, do not be afraid to speak up. We cannot allow our voices to go silent and we cannot turn our eyes and ears away. We must be active, we must seek services, we must continue to advocate for our future. Students with disabilities cannot be an afterthought.
I believe in the education system, I believe there is hope for those with disabilities. I truly believe there are many who care about the students with disabilities and will fight to make sure they are a priority. I honestly believe we will not be forgotten....as long as we make our voices heard and our presence known. Be kind, care for your local schools, and join the conversation. Read articles, ask questions, and be informed on what is around you...because to have your voice heard, you must #KnowYouRights.
For those interested in learning about more ways to get involved and impact your own school system, visit the sites below. Think I missed something? Leave a comment or send me a message!