“Cc: 3 people on every email.”
This was one of the best pieces of advice Linda gave us and we hadn’t even signed a contract with her yet!
My son has been in the public school system since he was three years old. After being asked to leave multiple daycares, one owner suggested we contact our school district’s CST and have him tested. He was tested and was deemed eligible for their special needs pre-school program. He started with half-days and transitioned to full days.
As parents, we thought we were doing the best for him. We had our IEP meeting and everything was great. Boy do I wish I knew what was ahead of me!!!
Kindergarten started off okay, but then he was put on home instruction because he was a “public health” risk. I had hired a different advocate then, but she didn’t do a thing for me. I even contacted a special needs attorney who offered advice and we were able to get him back into school.
First grade, again started off okay, but then it went downhill. At one of the many meetings with the school, we raised the question of out of district placement. Oh no, we were told. Multiple times that year, while being summoned to the school to pick up our son due to his current behaviors, arriving and being shuttled into an impromptu meeting, we would say, perhaps out of district placement is the answer and we were told No, we have not done everything we can for him yet.
In the spring, I contacted Linda. Best thing we could have ever done. At our first meeting, she gave me so much information and I thought to myself, I had no idea that I was the person in control of my son’s IEP meetings. Linda took the time to review all of my son’s records and ask what we wanted for our son. Together, we devised a plan to fight for our child and the education he deserved. Linda is a bulldog. She knows how to ask the tough questions that parents don’t want to ask or know to ask. She is upfront and always responsive.
Months and months of meetings and emails and unfulfilled requests, we wound up in court. We had no choice. Days before my son was supposed to start his new school, I was still getting “bullied” by the school district and administrators.
My son has been in his new school since the end of November and he is doing outstanding. He was named “Student of the Month” this past month and received his first report card – all A’s and B’s. He has not been sent home once! When his teacher calls me for a weekly status update, she is nothing but positive. We could not be happier and more proud of our child. We credit a lot of people, but without Linda, our son would not be in the proper educational atmosphere, he would not be as successful as he is and I would not have my sanity.
Get yourselves educated. Know your child’s rights and your rights as parents. Understand that they are not in control of your child’s educational future, you are. Hire an advocate (IEP Coach/advocate Linda’s email email@example.com and website www.specialneedsnewjersey.com) who understands the special educational system. School administrators take advantage of the that fact parents do not know all the ins and outs of how the system works and for many, including myself, there is so much more than just that little PRISE book they give you at the meeting.
Stand your ground. Ask questions. Ask for documentation and communication in written form. Control the conversation and the meetings. And most importantly, every communication should include at least people!!!!!
Nicole is one of the parents I have served through IEP Coaching and Advocacy. You will be hearing more of her story in future posts.
If your child is struggling in Special Education, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of Special Education, have questions about what the PRISE booklet is all about, or have a newly diagnosed or classified child in your family…. Contact me at (973) 534-3402 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to my website and fill in the contact/request form www.specialneedsnewjersey.com. NOTE: Don’t let the NJ part put you off, I serve ALL states! The laws of the IDEA are national! Some practices, policies, and timelines vary state to state, but YOUR RIGHTS and the rights of YOUR CHILD are the same across ALL borders! (NJ is simply where I am located and it was the best available domain when I started.)
I hope to hear from you soon to learn how I can help you help your child.