It doesn’t matter where your child goes to school, you as the parent must supervise his/her education. One thing I have learned is that this is the time of year to review your child’s IEP; the actual copy you received at the end of the last IEP meeting.
Inspect the content. Is the school staff doing everything the IEP calls for? Every aspect of the IEP, including the goals and objectives, is NOT a wish list. It is not something “we will shoot for”. The IEP is a legal contract of what the school district is committing to provide to your child. It is our obligation as parents to make sure they are doing EVERYTHING they said they would do. Don’t make the common mistake of hearing a school district employee say to you in May, “oops, we didn’t have time to do this; we didn’t have time to do that”. Your child will only be at this grade level one time, and then it’s on to tougher material next year. This is precious time and it is our responsibility to make sure that your child’s educators are following the IEP completely.
Plan a meeting. As a parent, you have the right to call a meeting anytime you like, and please do not be shy about this. Ask for an update on your child’s goals and objectives. Have the goals already been accomplished? If so, you might consider adding more goals according to where your child is right now. If the goals have not been met, ask staff what they are doing to meet these goals. Ask them if “we” as a team should approach these goals differently. You as a parent are a part of the IEP team. In fact, you are the most important part of the IEP team. Being a good advocate for your child, in my opinion, means working together with the school staff. Going into attack mode just makes them defensive. After all, they are human.
Remember, you are the pacesetter. Teachers will say that there are some parents they never hear from. Conversely, there are some parents they hear from frequently. Which kids do you think get more attention? Email, call, whatever is best for you, but please keep in contact with your child’s teachers and aides. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat. Parents are in the power seat with the IEP team. If you do not feel that way, if you feel you have been mistreated or disrespected in any way, seek help. In Clark County School District, every Area has an Ombudsman’s Office. They will take your complaint, and they are serious about addressing the issue. The help is there.
There’s even more help! Locally here in Nevada, we are blessed with Nevada PEP. Not only are they of tremendous help to us as parents, they have excellent resource referral to help you. Nevada PEP can be reached at (702) 388-8899. There are tons of online resources as well to assist you.
Remember; don’t wait until the year is almost over. It’s February and there are 3 more solid months of academic time left to accomplish your child’s goals. “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” If you don’t plan it, it may not happen, so it’s up to you to put your advocate’s hat on and go for it! There is no greater accomplishment as a parent than helping your child be the best that he/she can be. Best of luck to you!