Every time I attend an IEP meeting I am amazed at the amount of educational jargon that is used by educators. They seem to take it for granted the parents know all of the jargon or do not seem to care. How many times have you been given the parental rights brochure by the IEP team? How many times have you read and understand it? I filed a state complaint against the State Department of Education of Georgia several years ago claiming that the parental rights brochure given out by school system to parents violates the parent’s right to meaningful participation in the IEP process. I discovered that the reading level you need to understand the parental rights brochure on the IDEA is around 14.2 years or two years of college education. That is astonishing. I have practiced in the area of special education for 30 years and still do not understand how parents can adequately be informed of your rights under the IDEA when is so difficult to read the parental rights brochure. Anyway, the Special Education Department agreed to convene a group of individuals, including parent advocates and parents, to redraft the parental rights brochure. After several weeks of meetings and drafts, we created a brochure that was more parent friendly. The reading level of the brochure was around 10th grade. I wanted the reading level to be lower but with many different stakeholders, compromise was essential. What happened to this brochure? It was relegated to a section of the State Board of Education website. Who knows this? In the meantime, school systems still hand out the parental right brochure with tiny fonts. I have good eyesight but for many I do not know how they even read it.
The point is that unless parents fully understand their parental rights under the IDEA, then it is difficult for them to assert those rights and challenge their child’s IEP when necessary. The IDEA provides many entitlements to special education. Unless you understand how to access those rights, then it is as if you had money in the bank but could not withdraw it. When in doubt, please speak to an advocate or special education attorney who can inform you of all of your rights under the IDEA. It is so important that you know and understand those rights for the protection of your child.