Families with children with disabilities like autism already face obstacles in getting their children the appropriate services they need to learn. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines specific requirements for identifying and educating children with disabilities. But the coronavirus crisis has created even more obstacles where online education may be the only option. Many parents are asking: how do I fight for my child’s IEP rights during the coronavirus pandemic?
If your child has a developmental disability, California public schools are required to hold an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meeting with you. At this meeting, they are supposed to work together with you to assess your child’s needs and figure out what extra educational resources they will provide. The schools legally must provide these resources, but many do not.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, parents need to try to work with schools and districts to figure out what's going to be best for their children through distance learning and how they're going to access it. And even if your IEP meeting does not happen as scheduled, that is not an opportunity for a school district to take services away from your child during this time.
The key is that schools needs to offer equitable access if they're offering distance learning to everybody else. They have to include students with disabilities in that mix as well.
Overall, you should document where your child is as far as skill level, either through video or through data sheets, so that when the coronavirus pandemic closures are over you can see whether or not there's been any regression in your child's skills, whether that's academics or behaviorally or anything related to occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech, and language.
As a parent, you just want to know what your child is going to receive and when he is going to receive it and what it's going to look like. But you need to document everything, so you have evidence to provide the school and the district to show that your child is not receiving the services intended in his IEP.
School districts know what they are required to provide, but they also know that if they choose not to offer them, the majority of parents will not fight the decision or they won’t know how. That’s where an educational advocate organization comes in.
An advocate will help you create an IEP that will maximize your child’s learning outcomes. They can research appropriate services for your child and attend IEP meetings with you. Most importantly, they know the laws and will make sure your IEP team and school district are performing their duties. They can also file for hearings and represent you at those hearings.
It is your legal right for your child with special needs to get a proper education.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
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