Welcome to The Center for Special Education Advocacy
Our mission is to provide parents of children with disabilities the resources, tools, and guidance necessary to ensure they have the knowledge and ability to navigate the special education process successfully. Our primary focus is to play a part in ensuring that every child, regardless of disabling condition, has a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). In particular, we work closely with parents who need help navigating the special education and IEP/ARD process and resolving conflict. Contact Us: email@example.com
It can be incredibly intimidating and scary attending an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting. It is not uncommon for parents to sit across the table from ten-plus educators during an IEP meeting. When parents disagree with school districts, it is rarely an easy or pleasant situation. The IDEA, the law that governs special education in America, requires the equal involvement of parents and encourages input and collaboration from all parties.
Working with an advocate can serve a number of needs. Having another person at the table who knows “the rules of the education game” can make a big difference. Imagine playing a game and you don’t know the rules. That’s essentially what happens when parents attend IEP meetings. Everyone knows the rules but the parent(s). There is, generally speaking, a true knowledge deficit on the part of the parents. The educators attend IEP meetings for a living and are well-versed in the law and what they are required to do by law. In addition, the presence of an advocate can adjust the behavior of the educators at the table. If educators know the advocate is knowledgeable and competent, they may be more likely to accommodate requests and parental needs. As well, having an advocate can simply be comforting. It is truly frightening sitting alone across the table from ten-plus professionals. Having someone “in your corner” can go a long way to easing anxiety and increasing confidence.
At the Center for Special Education Advocacy, our primary focus is to empower parents and educators with knowledge. We are also available to provide advocacy to parents and support them on their journey through the special education labyrinth. Our goal is to help parents achieve their goals for their child while also preserving the relationship with the school district. We work hard to find cooperative and collaborative solutions for all parties involved.
Best Practices for School Districts for Complying with the Endrew F. decision and IDEA 2004 for Children with Autism At the end of the day, and in relation to the 2004 IDEA Amendments, schools are required to ensure both legal compliance and sound, appropriate educational programming for children with disabilities. Recently, however, the bar of what constitutes “appropriate” has shifted upward. In particular, the bar for educating children with Autism has increased. Whereas once the Rowley standard and bar of services was “merely more than de minimis”, it is now, under the Endrew F decision, “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” As well, the Court noted, “to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP (individualized education program) that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. Ever since the Endrew F. decision, I have regularly been asked by school officials: “What should we do to comply with the Endrew F. decision and to stay out of hot water?” This is a simple question with complex answers. In the spirit of parsimony and practicality, I offer the following recommendations to ensure compliance with IDEA and the recent Endrew F. decision as it relates to educating children with Autism. Obviously, every child and situation is unique and, thus, requires individualization. That said, if you employ the following guiding principles when crafting IEP’s for children with Autism, you will be going a long way to ensure a FAPE under IDEA and to comply with the spirit and intent of the Endrew F. decision. 1. Ensure every academic and functional goal is truly measurable and the baseline is firmly rooted in the PLAAFP; 2. Ensure every annual goal is truly ambitious, unique, and is developed with the intent of advancing the child toward grade-level proficiency; 3. For an Autistic child with behavioral or functional needs documented in the PLAAFP, provide the student with an opportunity to receive ABA services and supports from a licensed BCBA; 4. While receiving ABA services and supports, ensure tight measurement of behavior and social skills acquisition; 5. Utilize a scientifically-validated method for collecting both academic and behavioral data. Standardized data should be utilized to track progress on annual goals and short-term benchmarks; 6. Provide campus-wide staff training in best practices for meeting the behavioral and academic needs of children with Autism; 7. Implement a social, emotional learning curriculum with each student, as well as schoolwide, that celebrates diversity and the utilization of pro-social behaviors and skills.