4 Advocacy Tips to Empower You, When Special Educators Try to Use an Unapproved IEP! – Education Service

Are you the parent of a child with Autism receiving special education services from your school district? Have special educators in your district tried to change your child’s IEP services, without your approval? Are you frustrated and not sure whether it is even allowed and what to do about it? This article will give you information about why school districts cannot implement a child in special education’s IEP, without parental approval; and four advocacy tips to empower you as you overcome this roadblock!Several courts have ruled including the US Supreme Court; that school districts must seek a due process hearing if they want to implement an IEP, without a parent’s approval. For example: If your school district states that your child with Autism no longer needs special education services, and they are going to stop the services; they are required to file for a due process hearing. Unfortunately, you may have to be assertively persistent in your advocacy to make sure that school employees understand this.Advocacy Tips:1. If your school district develops an IEP at a meeting that you do not agree with; the next day send the school district a letter, explaining to them in detail why you disagree with the proposed IEP. Keep a copy for yourself, and hand deliver the letter to the school district.2. If your school does not file for a due process hearing (before implementation of the unapproved IEP), you may file for a due process hearing yourself, and ask for a “stay put” placement as well as services (from the last agreed upon IEP). You should also ask the hearing officer to change the burden of proof to the school district, since they refused to file, since most States place the burden on the party that files (only six states (CT, DE. NJ, NY, NV, and WV place the burden of proof always on the school district).3. If the school personnel do file due process so that they can implement an IEP that you do not agree with (or if you are ready to file to stop the school from implementing an unapproved IEP); make arrangements to take your child to a qualified evaluator for an independent educational evaluation (IEE). This will help you determine your child’s disabilities, or specifically what related and special education services your child needs. The evaluation report can be used at due process as your evidence that the schools proposed IEP will not provide your child an appropriate education.4. If your school district does try to implement an IEP that you do not believe will give your child an appropriate education, this may leave the school district vulnerable to be required to pay for a private placement or services. IDEA 2004 allows parents to seek private placement and services for lack of a free appropriate public education (FAPE); and then seek reimbursement. Finding a child ineligible for related and special education services has required many schools around the country, to bear the cost of the child’s private services and schooling.In the above example if educators states that your child with Autism is no longer eligible for special education services, you may be able to seek private services and/or placement, and then file due process for reimbursement of the private services cost.As a parent you need to assertively and persistently advocate for your child, so that he or she can be ready for post school learning and a productive adult life! Good luck!