It takes a lot for parents to finally get an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or 504 plan for their child with disabilities. Meeting after meeting, test after test, and lists of forms that seem to ask the same questions over and over again. It’s endless!
The annual IEP, crafted by Child Study Teams that include specialists and parents, can include evaluations from doctor visits, psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists, teachers, occupational therapists, and physical therapists, depending on your child’s needs.
A final document is produced based on all these professional evaluations that should protect a child and help them succeed throughout their school years. It is a federal document, a contract between parents and schools.
And yet parents have to fight with schools. Calls and notes from the school leave parents feeling exhausted.
One mom (I’ll call her Mrs. D) recently decided to homeschool her child, not because she wants to but because she grew tired of the school’s threat to kick her son out permanently. She is now looking for a new school that will be able to accommodate her now 14-year-old son’s IEP. He is promising his mom to be a better kid in school. She is afraid that he’ll be ostracized by schools as she tries once again. This will be the third attempt to put her son in a school that will not call home daily with complaints about his behavior..
I sent her an article from The 74 In hopes that she would not feel so alone in this fight. She just wants her son to be happy. What parent doesn’t?
Should parents be forced to homeschool even though schools receive extra dollars to educate students with IEP’s?
Should moms like Mrs. D. be deemed “problem parents” for advocating for their child’s rights and for what is legally required once a school takes those federal dollars?
No parent should have to fight this much to make sure their child is supported properly.
I know what many people may say: The parent is a child’s first educator. Yes they are, but schools also have to play their role.
Or maybe people say, it’s a parents obligation! Yes it is, and most of these parents know this, which is why they’ve taken the appropriate measures to make sure their students get all the support they need to be successful.
If homeschooling is what’s best for the child then do but it should not be a choice forced on parents. Most of the students I am speaking of did not want homeschooling.
Schools try to hold on to the dollars that should follow most of these students. Unless a parent fights once again to have those funds taken from the school and added to home resources, the school keeps those funds.
Consider my little cousin Cody Knight, a 5th grade student. Cody, on any given day, is a rambunctious kid. His mom, Tesha Jordan, saw the need to have him and his twin brother tested for ADHD. Tesha visits the Children’s Center regularly to ensure that her boys have as much social and emotional support as possible. She herself is an educator and has a great support system set up for the twins.
Yet, with an IEP in place, somehow the school has come to conclusion that “it is in the best interest of Cody if he remains home for half of the school day.”
Now Tesha’s parents have to pick him up from school and he stays at their home until his brother is done with the full school day.
The school’s only other suggestion is to find another school for him.
No additional services are being provided for Cody.
Most schools don’t discuss with parents their full rights. Some parents have been convinced by schools that these alternative measures are the best thing for their child. Parents who don’t know laws or how their child’s IEP works grow weary and give in. And all of the time it is the student who suffers.
Parents, I am asking you to do a little more research and to fight now for your children. Here is a glossary of terms you should know at understand.org
When we know more we are better able to advocate for our children.
I understand how it feels for principals to see you as a pain in their daily program. Every time I email my daughter’s school I cc everyone I can. I too grew tired of getting brushed off. Every meeting I have learned to prepare my questions before I go in and sometimes send them directly to the teachers. This keeps me from losing my train of thought as they ramble along about “if my child would or wouldn’t then…”
So many of us have been deemed “helicopter moms,” but that’s just until our children can advocate for themselves. I’m not talking about disrespect but genuinely fighting for their rights.
School leaders, is this the new norm? How many of you send children home halfway through the day or coach parents out by making it seem like it was the parents’ decision?
How many of you send students with IEP’s to the office daily to sit and cool off because you have not provided additional support staff? How many of the students you suspend need an IEP and you would never tell the parent that because you really don’t want to be held responsible by law?
You are on the hook. You are accountable for every unneeded suspension and loss of instructional time. You are the ones who chose this career; the children did not choose their disabilities. Do right from a moral standpoint. We are educating parents and eventually you will have to comply,