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Advocacy program helps navigate the school year

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Back-to-school time is here, and time to prepare for what the new school year might bring. Parents and children always want the new school year to start off with enthusiasm and great plans for a successful school year. Thoughts of what the new year might bring in relation to behavior problems, peer relations, and the possibility of difficulties with teachers and administrators do not immediately enter into a conversation about the upcoming new school year. However, with the difficulties that children face in school and are almost sure to encounter in today's school environment, it is a great idea to learn about how your school plans to handle events that might occur during the year that might not be a positive event. The beginning of the new school year is a good time to educate yourself about programs that your school district has in place to help navigate through the school year.

The Sarasota County School District has a great program in place for parents and children to access if needed to help navigate through a stressful situation. The Community Liason for Achieving Student Success, or CLASS, is a free district advocacy program designed to help parents and children with negotiations and/or mediations for solving school related problems during the school year. Concerns that come with school routines during the year related to promotions, retentions, discipline, ESL placement, and general school relations are all part of the program's advocacy program. Advocates also help parents resolve expulsion and suspension policies that may occur during the year.

Parents are assigned an advocate who is trained in the Sarasota County School District's disciplinary policies and procedures, the school board's policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and the rights of parents and children. Advocates listen to a parent's concerns about a problem and assist in several ways to bring about a successful solution to the problem. Your advocate will accompany you to school meetings, interpret policies and procedures, and aid in asking the right questions to find answers. Asking the right questions is often the key to a successful solution, and your advocate's knowledge of "school speak" is a needed piece of the puzzle for parents.

Parents who would like to know more about this advocacy program may call 941-927-9000, ext. 3113 to become familiar with the CLASS program that is offered by the Sarasota County School District.

Have a great school year for 2014-2015!

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