Creating a Successful School Year
Welcome to the kick-off edition of our education law blog! Each new school year brings new teachers, new classes, and new anxieties. Parents of children with special needs face the added stressor of wondering whether their child’s school will accommodate those needs appropriately. Here are some strategies to increase the likelihood of a collaborative relationship with your child’s school team.
Don’t rely on assumptions.
Don’t assume that the school will provide specific accommodations if those accommodations are not specifically listed in your child’s IEP or 504 Plan even if you have discussed those accommodations with school officials in the past. Make sure that your child’s written plan accurately reflects her needs and correctly describes all accommodations. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
2. Hold a team meeting (IEP or 504).
A new school year means new teachers, new expectations, and new classes. Your child’s needs may also have changed. By the end of September, your child’s teachers should have a better sense of your child. This is a great time to hold a meeting to discuss the team’s expectations for the 2019-20 school year. Remember that parents are an integral part of your child’s team. If you have had a private evaluation or medical information that may impact your child’s education, make sure to share those evaluations and feedback with the team.
3. Contact the teachers.
If you have a child in middle school or high school, you may not be able to personally meet with all your child’s teachers by the end of September. To familiarize your child’s teachers with your child, teachers appreciate a short email describing your perspective of your child’s needs and how to effectively address those needs.
4. Create a chronology.
Create a chronology of your child’s educational and medical history. A chronology is essentially your child’s story focusing on his educational history. Begin by briefly stating when your child was diagnosed and any steps you took after the diagnosis, what kind of tutors or therapists treated your child and how he responded. Include information about school services provided to your child in past years and whether and why they were successful or not. Update your chronology periodically. The best way to start drafting the chronology is to arrange all of your child’s records in chronological order by date and use the dates to anchor your timeline. This document will be useful to you throughout your child’s academic career.
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