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Special Education Rights and Responsibilities

In the meantime, here is Special Education Rights and Responsibilities, better known as the Special Ed bible. This is the ninth edition, revised April 2003. It is written by the Community Alliamce for Special Education (CASE) and Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (PAI). And here is the January 2005 insert.

The guide is available in other languages at their website. They also appreciate donations to help them produce the work.

Navigating the School System

I find when you put things in the perspective of concern for your child, then the teacher involved, then the rest of the students - they team sees you as an integral part of the team, knowledgeable, but not to be pushed around. For instance - you could say - the team agrees that "Janey" needs more assistance and that she is not ready for kindergarten. It is unfair to the teacher and the rest of the students let alone "Janey" to put her into a position that would stress her out and where the teacher must spend more time and attention on her and take away time from the other students. I don't believe this is what's best for everyone involved. How about we consider a one on one aide for "Janey" (my personal opinion is all children with PWS need a one on one aide and its easier to start off with one than ask later on) so that she gets the attention she needs, the cueing to stay on task so the teacher can teach the whole class, and we consider part time 3 day a week kindergarten to get "Janey" ready for next year. On the alternate days - perhaps we offer her the additional services she requires such as speech, OT, PT etc so we don't remove her from the classroom and the educational setting during a time when she should be learning.

I also really recommend the technique called dancing with the devil. Its an amazing way of helping the progress of what your child needs!! And remember to always use that terminology - this is not about what you want for her - or what you want - but what she needs to be successful...

I am so much better at this when I have more facts and can talk to you directly!!! I hope this is making sense.

The other part of this - is it seems this conversation is occurring between you and an administrator not in the presence of the team. You are within your rights to convene an IEP meeting to discuss the issue with the team. You are also within your rights to record it!!! But there is a way to do this - don't just take a recorder - there is a process - again - something better done in person - but I can try here. You take a tape recorder to the meeting. Out of sight... then you begin by saying - "You know - these meetings make me so emotional (you reach for the tape recorder and turn it on bringing it to the table) I am afraid I may hear everything correctly, interpret what is said in an emotional light, or not remember it. Is it OK with you that I tape this session?" This gets your reason for tapping and asking for permission to tape the session on the tape!! YOU must do this!! IT also then - gets them either saying yes - or refusing!!! IF they refuse - you say OK - we will have to do this again when I can have legal representation/ an advocate or a mediator. Then you turn of the recorder and leave! They typically say either yes - or something like - "That's fine - but we will need to record it as well for our own copy". That is totally acceptable and reasonable. THIS IS NOT A TACTIC I RECOMEND FOR A FIRST MEETING - ONLY IF YOU FEEL THAT THEY ARE GOING TO LIE TO YOU OR FLIP FLOP AGAIN. YOU DO NOT WANT TO START OFF BY GETTING THEM BELIEVING YOU ARE THE BAD GUY. ITS A VERY AGRESSIVE POSITION. AND YOU CAN PLAY HARD BALL IN A LESS AGRESSIVE POSTURE.

NOW saying all that - I am not a Lawyer - just a parent who advocates for kids. My education has been the school of hard knocks (my actual degree is in computer science!!! ) with my children and then my job and many many many training sessions for it. I work for a state wide agency that helps parents of special needs children connect with other parents and get resources and information from birth to forever!

Take a deep breath and then get as much information as possible. Contact your state disability law project if you must. Most of it all can be found on the web. Federal law is first - and your state law must meet or exceed federal law. Try as hard as you can to not see it emotionally.

Mel Levine

Mel Levine has great books that can help in understanding the different ways that a school age brain works. Two good books are "A Mind at a Time" and "The Myth of Laziness."


A Montessori education can be good for fine motor skills and just wonderful overall.