Research shows that when families and school staff work together, student outcomes improve. Building positive relationships between the team will make collaboration and communication more effective and should result in improved student achievement. Some teams have to work harder to have positive relationships. Despite best efforts, disagreements or disputes can occur. The law affords many opportunities to bring the team back together. If all the team members have a shared sense of the student's true needs, the best way to address them and can agree on what mastery will look like, there is a greater chance of success. Using effective communication and some lower level dispute resolution options the team may be able to come together and gain a shared understanding of how to meet the student's needs.
FAMILY AND STUDENT ROLE IN EDUCATIONAL DECISION MAKING
Research has proven that teams that work together have better student outcomes. Find some tips and ideas to make the team more connected and everyone more informed.
- Encouraging High Expectations
- Five Steps to Becoming Your Child's Best Advocate
- Areas to Consider When Preparing for Your PPT Meeting
- Before, During and After the PPT
- Steps to Success: Communicating with Your Child's School
- The ABCs of Staying in Touch with Your School
- My Teacher Wants to Know Checklist
- Positive Student Profile
- Guiding Principles of Collaborative Advocacy
Independent Educational Evaluation
Parents may disagree with the results of the school's evaluation or feel that the school did
not conduct the evaluation appropriately (e.g., tested a language minority student solely in
English or based eligibility decisions upon the use of only one test).
If so, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (Section 300.502) gives parents the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation. An independent evaluation is an evaluation done by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district responsible for providing educational services. The school district may provide the independent evaluation at public expense (the school system pays) or they must initiate a due process hearing to show that their evaluation was, indeed, appropriate. If the hearing decision is that the district's evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent evaluation at his/her own expense. Regardless of who pays for the independent evaluation, the school is obligated to consider the results of the evaluation at a Planning and Placement Team meeting.
- While "permission" from the school is not required, a request for an independent evaluation at public expense should be discussed at the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting. If such a request is made, the school district may ask why the parents object to the public evaluation. It may not, however, require an explanation by the parent.
- Parents may seek an independent evaluation at their own expense at any time (of course). Should the parent decide to share the results with the school district, they must be considered by the school district when planning an appropriate educational program for the child. The results may also be presented as evidence at a due process hearing.
- If a hearing officer recommends an independent educational evaluation, the cost must be at public expense, not the parent's.
- The criteria for an independent evaluation must be the same as it is for a school district's evaluation (i.e., location, qualifications of examiners).
- Upon request, the school district shall provide information on obtaining an independent evaluator.
Guidance for Independent Educational Evaluations and In-School Observations from the CT Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.
What does informed written consent mean?
Informed written consent means that you have been given all the information that you need to make a knowledgeable decision about a proposed activity by your school district regarding your child's education, and that you agree in writing when such written consent is required, to that proposed activity. You have the right not to give your consent. You also have the right to revoke your consent at any time. Your failure to respond within ten school days to a request for a written consent will be considered by the school district to be a refusal of consent except when your consent is being sought for a reevaluation of your child.
When must the school district obtain my written consent?
Your written consent is required in the following situations:
- Before your child is evaluated for the first time to determine whether your child is eligible for special education;
- Before your child's initial placement into special education; and
- Before your child is reevaluated. (However, if the school can show that it made a good effort to get your consent for the reevaluation of your child, and you do not respond, then the school district may proceed with the reevaluation without having obtained your written consent.)
Written consent to evaluate your child for the first time is not the same as the consent that
places your child into special education and related services. A separate written consent is
required to begin your child's special education program.
What happens if I do not give written consent for the proposed activity?
If you should disagree with the proposed activity for which written consent is required and you do not give written consent for the proposed activity, the school district must take steps, as necessary, to ensure that your child continues to receive a free appropriate public education. If you refuse permission for the school district to conduct either an initial evaluation or reevaluation of your child, the school district may initiate due process procedures as a way for it to proceed with the recommended evaluation(s). If you do not give permission for your child to receive special education services, the school district may not use due process procedures as a way to place your child into special education. If you refuse consent for initial placement of your child in special education, you waive all rights to special education services and protections at the time consent is refused. You may still ask for a reevaluation or due process hearing on the evaluation or the appropriateness of the special education and related services being offered.
What if I want to withdraw my written consent after it has been given?
Giving written consent is voluntary. You can withdraw your written consent at any time by notifying the school district in writing. Withdrawing your written consent does not affect the actions taken or the services provided during the time the school district had your permission.
Must the school district obtain my written consent each time there is a proposal to change my child's program or placement?
No. Once services have started, you or the school district may propose changes to your child's program or placement at a PPT meeting. The school district must provide you with prior written notice of the proposed changes. Your written consent is not required to implement the changes to your child's special education program. However, if you do not agree with the proposed changes to your child's program, you have the right to initiate due process to stop the changes from occurring. If you do not pursue due process review, the proposed changes to your child's program will go forward.
(Excerpted and Amended (based on changes to CT Regulations) From A Parent's Guide to Special Education in Connecticut, CT Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, 2007)
FORMAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESSES
Parent Guides from the Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education:
IEP Facilitation Parent Guide
Guía Padres Facilitación
Written State Complaint Parent Guide
Guía Padres Quejas por Escrito
Mediation Parent Guide
Guía Padres Mediación
Due Process Parent Guide
Guia Padres Proceso Debido
Resolution Meeting Parent Guide
Guía Padres Reunión de Resolución