It is almost the end of the first school semester and the beginning of winter break. By this time, you should have a good idea wherher your child is making educational progress on his or her IEP goals and objectives. It is time to review your child’s IEP and ask these questions: (1) Have I received my child’s report cards every nine weeks during the first semester, and if so does the report card inform me as to his or her educational progress on the IEP goals and objectives; and (2) if your child is not making adequate educationmal progress (meaning not more than trivial progress), then you might want to convene an IEP meeting to amend, revise, or change IEP goals and objectives and determine why your child is not achieving progress. Of course there may be a myriad of reasons why your child is not making educational progress on IEP goals and objectives that have little or nothing to do with the quality of educational instruction and services. For example, if your child has missed many days of school because of an illness or accident, then you should have made arrangements with the school for home bound instruction. It is important to note that many school systems will only provide three hours of home bound instruction a week regardless of your child’s educational needs or ability to learn. You should consult with your child’s physician, psychologist or other medical professional to determine how many hours a week your child can receive instruction from a home bound teacher or related service personnel. If your child can receive 10 or 15 hours of week of homebound instruction, for instance, then you should request this number of hours of instruction and not just three hours. Where does the three hours of instruction come from? There is a State Department of Education regulation that states that a child can be placed on home bound instruction and must receive at least three hours of instruction of week. Well, school systems interpret this regulation as a maximum number of hours instead of a minimum number of hours of instruction. But if the school arbitrarily only gives your child three hours of instruction a week, then you probably have a good case for a State complaint, OCR complaint, or due process.
You should keep in mind that you can request an IEP meeting more than once a school year. You can request an IEP meeting every month if you want. It may not be advisable or necessary for you to request an IEP meeting every month, or every three or six months. It really depends upon the nature and severity of your child’s disability, the lack of your child’s educational progress, changes in the location or educational placement of your child’s school, the receipt of new evaluations and information about your child, and a host of other factors. I would recommend that you bring an advocate or special education attorney to the IEP meeting. I cannot tell you how many times a parent has told me that it really makes a huge difference when a special education attorney shows up with a parent for an IEP meeting. The parent is treated more respectfully, the IEP meeting lasts hours instead of 30 minutes or so, and there is much more input and discussion that benefits the child’s special educational programming.
Hope to hear from some of you soon.