Do you wonder what your school system is up to these days? Do you feel that you have any control over your child’s IEP and programming? Do you feel that the school system basically does what it pleases with your child? Do you think your child’s placement is inappropriate or too restrictive in view of the nature and severity of his disability?
If you have any of these feelings, you are not alone. Every day in the 181 school districts in Georgia one or more parents of children with disabilities feel powerless to change what the school system is doing with their child. Frustration and disappointment are perhaps two of the prominent feelings that parents have voiced to me over the years. Parents ask, “Why can’t my child receive more speech and language therapy?” “Why does the school system have the right to place my child in an Alternative School?” “I am so tired of the dealing with the school system that I am considering withdrawing my child from school and homeschooling him.” “I want to fight the school system but I do not have money to hire a special education attorney to file for due process.” “I filed for due process by myself but I do not have the knowledge to fight the school system and their attorneys.” I could go on and on . . . . there have been countless stories that I have heard over the years from parents that are just trying to ensure that their child is treated fairly and appropriately under the law. As I said, you are no alone and there are always things you can do when you feel frustrated and disappointed with the lack of quality of education you feel the school system is giving your child.
Due process should be the last resort in most cases because it can be expensive, complicated, and protracted. Due process is a viable option to deal with the school system. I do not recommend that your pursue due process without consulting with a special education lawyer. Parents that have filed for due process and went to a hearing without a lawyer rarely if ever win in Georgia in the past 7 or 8 years. If you lose in due process the school systems feel emboldened to do what they want because they think you are very unlikely to file for due process again. Besides, the school system thinks that you do not want to go through this process more than once. And yes, in most cases, that is true. So what do you do? There are always things you can do to improve the special education program and IEP for your child. An experienced special education lawyer can give you several options to pursue. This does not mean that your issues and problems will always be addressed and you will get what you want. It means that you can challenge your frustrations and disappointment into working toward a better outcome for your child. A special education attorney or trained parent advocate can give you a balanced opinion and hopefully both sides of the story so you can make an informed decision. Lawyers are trained to think strategically and that is what is necessary in most special education cases. You develop a plan and pursue it strategically to get what you want from the school system for your child. Negotiation is an underappreciated and underutilized skill. Negotiation can give you what you want but you have to use a third person – a special education lawyer for example – to negotiate with the school system. I have resolved countless special education disputes by talking directly with the school system’s lawyers and negotiating for what is best for my client. All you have to do is pick up the phone, write an email, or send a facsimile a special education lawyer, such as myself, for advice and consultation. It is simple as that.
So what is your school district up to these days? It may not matter if you can gain control of your situation and find out what you can do rectify your problem. Do not let the school system dictate the terms to you. Use your skills and resources by contacting a special education attorney or trained parent advocate for assistance. Sometimes lawyers work with trained parents advocates to help you. I certainly do. Your team can seek and hopefully secure a resolution to your frustrations and disappointments.