If you are interested in having your child avail of the Special Education Services that the US government provides under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the first thing you need to do is to get in touch with your local school and signify your intention to have your child participate in the program. Your local school will then schedule your child for an evaluation to determine his eligibility for the program.
If your child is eligible for the Special Education Services, a customized Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be created to help him develop the skills which he needs to learn. Best results from the IEP are obtained when both the teacher and the parent are involved in this initiative. In fact, IDEA has given the parents certain legal rights in this program and these are the following:
1. Right to actively participate in developing your child’s IEP. As a parent, you are free to provide the school all the necessary information that would help customize your child’s IEP. If you feel that there are certain things that which will help your child’s IEP plan to succeed,
2. Right to disagree with the school system’s recommendation and to consult with another professional. As a parent, you are not required to take your school’s assessment and recommendation for your child as the law. You have the legal right to raise any issues you may have with the IEP. If there are some aspects of the school’s assessment or recommendation which you are doubting, you are always welcome to seek a second opinion or an outside evaluation for your child.
3. Right to invite anyone you want from a relative to your child’s doctor to be on the IEP team. Everyone has our own support group and you most likely have one too. When you are planning out your child’s IEP, keep in mind that you have the legal right to invite someone from your support group to be on the IEP team.
4. Right to initiate a request for an IEP meeting. You do not need to wait for your child’s school to set up a parent – teacher conference. You are always welcome to request for a meeting any time you feel that it is necessary.
5. Right to a free or low-cost legal representation. In the event that you have a misunderstanding with the school or can’t come to an agreement with the school, you are entitled to the services of a free or low-cost legal representation.