The purpose of this research paper was to conduct research on the legal issues and implications related to parent advocacy of students with learning disabilities. The legal implications of the research is applicable to students of all ages because each student has their own unique circumstances. Learning disabilities do not always happen in early child hood or in the elementary school age. Learning disabilities can happen in middle school or high school levels, however not a common circumstance. There is much to be absorbed by both the student and the parent when the student has a learning disability. The parent not only has to continue to care and provide for the family but become an advocate for their student’s education. The research studies that were detailed and discussed were conducted on the legal issues related to parent advocacy and parent participation in their child’s Individual Education Plan. These included case findings from (Doug C. v. Hawaii Department of Education, 2013, p.1048) research from articles conducted by different studies by White, Burke, Tandy and Heffernan discussing issues with parent participation and parent advocacy in schools. Future implications for parents of these legal issues include parent participation from early on in early child hood settings through high school graduation. Parents have many tools and resources from community and technology to educate themselves on their student’s disability and what the government, state, county and community school are required by law to provide for their student. For the future education opportunities for their student , the parent will have to stay consistent and involved in the planning and progress of their child’s academic success through school participation, local government agencies such as the local congressman office and participating in community support groups that rally and stand up for the rights of students with disabilities.
Keywords: legal, law, implications, issues, parent, advocacy, students, learning, disabilities
Challenges are situations human beings face every day from any race, ethnic background, country of origin, or home environment. In every country in the world there are children and adults with disabilities of various background. Rather it be an intellectual disability such as Down syndrome, an emotional/behavioral disability such as obsessive compulsive disorder or a learning disability such as Dyscalculia (math) disability. The challenges these individuals navigate through every day can be overwhelming without the support of family and community. For a student with a learning disability the education setting or classroom can be an intimidating one when the student cannot understand or comprehend the subjects they are facing challenges with.
There are laws put into place to protect the rights of students with learning disabilities to ensure they receive a free, public education in a least restrictive learning environment with their peers. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is a federal law that defines “a specific learning disability as a condition when a child’s achievement is substantially below what one might expect for that child” (“Learning Disabilities,” 2017, p.1). IDEA’s definition also specifies, according to Raymond (2017) the psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written , which the disorder manifest itself in can impair the ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, complete mathematic concepts.
For example dyscalculia (math) disability that can” severely affect the ability of a child to amass the skills necessary to memorize, organize numbers. Operate signs, word problems, algebraic thinking, and number facts” (Learning Disabilities and Disorders, 2017, p.4). Students with this learning disability struggle with the organization of numbers to complete math calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In addition, “those students that also have issues with reading struggle to decipher word problems and/or stories and identify the numbers in short term memory and to recognize the association between the word problem and the numbers”(Raymond,2017,p.111).
Diagnosis includes trained professionals and educators using a set of mathematical concepts to compare the expected level of math skills and the actual level of math skills with notating of strengths and weaknesses. Areas that are addressed in evaluation are : “abilities with counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, predicting, organize items in a logical way, measuring, telling time, using money, estimating numbers, self-assess work and different ways to solve problems” ( National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2017). According to Kelly (2017) a full evaluation conducted by trained professional evaluators can open the door to understanding the math areas the student is having difficulty in. According to Kelly (2017) Dyscalculia Assessments tests include the following areas:
- Computation skills
- Math fluency
- Mental computation
- Quantitative reasoning
Diagnosis tests include:
- “Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJ IV) Calculation subtest,it measures the child’s ability to do math operations efficiently and accurately” (Kelly, 2017, p.1).
- “WJ IV Math Fluency subtest, it measures the child’s ability to call up math facts, like 3 × 3 = 9, quickly and accurately”(Kelly,2017,p.1)
- “Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) Arithmetic subtest.It measures the child’s ability to do math problems in her head. This is also known as mental math” (Kelly,2017,p.1)
- “WIAT-IV Math Problem solving subtest, it measures the child’s math problem-solving skills. Specifically, her ability to understand quantitative relationships and set up a computation to solve a word problem” (Kelly, 2017, p.1).
In the school setting a team is developed by school staff including the general education teacher, special education teacher, resource specialists, school community members, the parent, the student , and community advocates to for an Individual education plan for the student. Plans are put in to place to provide learning resources and accommodations for the student based on their disability and achievement level for the IEP. During these meetings parents can discuss and advocate for their child’s best interests and so can the student, build their skills to become a self-advocate for themselves.
Stay organized with all cumulative work and progress of the child and IEP meetings, build relationships with the school community and local support group communities, ask questions frequently about your rights and your child’s rights and services, get support for stress relief, including yoga, therapy, journaling and exercise to cope manage stress and stay calm, stay effectively involved and participate in the school , frequently and supportively talk to the child about school and their accommodations, research educational jargon used by medical and educational staff about the child’s learning disability, and finally , communicate on a regular basis with the teachers and IEP team members.
Introduction of legal issues
The legal issues that will be discussed and detailed pertain to parent advocacy for students with disabilities. Specifically, in education setting K-12, issues will be analyzed for court cases and examples of research about legal issues pertaining to parent advocacy and parent advocacy groups for children with learning disabilities. In addition, the legal rights that protect the parents and child are of relevance including the laws that protect families under the IDEA (2004) and No Child Left Behind (2001)
According to “What is advocacy” (2017) parent advocacy involves the process of supporting the needs and education of the child with learning disabilities. It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure that their child is receiving the appropriate services and educate themselves on their child’s disability. Developing a strong and supportive collaborative relationship between their child’s teachers and school staff where open and positive communication is on a continuous and constant fluidity. In addition, the role of parent advocate also means having an understanding of the parents’ rights for their child’s education, under the law.
The No Child left Behind Act (2001) specifically states that they the NCLB “challenges states and school districts to increase efforts to improve student academic achievement”( “Elementary &Secondary Education Act,”2017,p.1) According to (Elementary &Secondary,2017) the NCLB holds provisions for accountability that include attention to low-performing groups of students, intending to close the achievement gap. The provisions of the NCLB federal law directly is tied to K-12 education settings in the United States and ensures a high levels of academic standards for students with disabilities. The NCLB holds all schools accountable to serving the needs of students with disabilities just like other students by with academic standards, achievement standards, and state assessments. In addition reform principles for NCLB include solid accountability, stronger flexibility and local control, various options for parents, and high focus on teaching qualifications and methods.
Another condition of NCLB that is at the for front of current legal issues for parents with children with learning disabilities is the issue of assessment and all the accommodations expected and discussed in the students individual education plan. Are the school meeting the expectations of the parents for their child as discussed and planned in IEP meetings with the child and parent along with all other IEP team members including the general and special education teachers? “Schools must provide annual assessments that are appropriate for all students and these assessments must include students with disabilities” (“Elementary & Secondary,”2017, p.2). The schools must also provide accommodations and alternative assessment that will be necessary for students with learning disabilities. These accommodations include adjustment or change to the materials and procedures teachers use to assess their students. According to (Elementary & Secondary, 2017) alternative assessments measure the students with disabilities that are not able to participate in the district and state assessments even with accommodations.
Discussing the legal issues
Before a parent makes the final step to pursuing legal discourse for their child’s education and the school and district that has been serving the child, the parent has to consider did they attempt on a continuous basis to be effective at being a parent advocate to resolving the issues they were having with their child’s school. Did the parent advocate give an effort to understand others and their thoughts and perspective, having knowledge of all the duties and expectations of their child’s teachers and the requirements they must meet The parent as part of being their child’s advocate must also protect themselves and be able to back of their legal issue with documentation if the issue goes beyond resolving in the school. The parent should use strategies that will educate themselves on the laws that pertain to their child’s situation. And advocate effectively with the school to resolve issues.
The parent advocate should research current findings and articles related to IDEA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.According to Heiten (2017) both of IDEA and Section 504 allow provisions for special education services. “IDEA has federal money attached to it for schools who serve students with disabilities, however, Section 504 does not” (Heiten, 2017, p.2). The parent needs to have a strong knowledge of the workings of both acts because it can be misconstrued.
“According to Heiten, children whom are eligible for services under IDEA automatically is eligible under Section 504, but not if the situation is reversed. Basically, special education services fall under IDEA and those students who require only classroom accommodations are only eligible for Section 504.Section 504 states that “children with disabilities eligible to be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or have a record of such an impairment; or be regarded as having such an impairment”( Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 2010).
Tools include informal and formal conversations with the school, “negotiating between two parties in which there is a presentation of positions, involving a marshaling of facts and arguments based on those facts, in a structured meeting or in writing” (Latham, 2017, p.3). Consider alternatives to litigation such as mediation, “litigation in court or formal filing of a complaint or charge with an appropriate government entity, the individual or attorneys are seeking to persuade someone of the validity of the parent advocate position”(Latham. 2017, p.3) Meaning an arbitrator or judge in this circumstance. In order to advocate effectively to convince through persuasive discourse that parent advocate must have a clear understanding of their own individual position on the issue, understand the position and knowledge of the persons they are try to convince, “urge the position by making points that twill appeal to the thinking of those the parent advocate is wishing to persuade and by using a calm, patient, approachable demeanor and style” (Latham, 2017, p.3)
When the parent advocate does make the final decision after no resolve with the child’s school they have serious and financially stressful decisions to make about the issues at hand they are having with the school such as the IEP accommodations and assessment. This is however for the benefit of the student with learning disabilities and their parent whom is the person that stands up for their child’s educational rights .There are some things to consider when the decision has been made to seek legal counsel. Is the position or issue that the parent advocating for have strength to proceed.
According to Reichhardt (2010) the school is required to enforce a free appropriate public education and implement the student’s individual education plan. If the school fails to deliver on enforcing the IEP, parents are eligible to address with the school district the right to be financially reimbursed the cost of the parent’s tuition for their child to attend a private school setting. This comes from the case involving (Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, 2017) the family in this case proceeded with legal discourse for their child with disabilities whom is autistic and attention deficit disorder.
The court ruled in that it was appropriate and within the guidelines of the IDEA act the family’s case fell within the requirements that specifically states that a free appropriate public education to all students with disabilities. The case involved the family disputing that they had evidence and persuasive argument that their child’s needs were not being met in the school setting their child was receiving their education. The parents found a private school that provided the atmosphere that their child progressed in and judgement was granted on behalf of the family for reimbursement by the school; district for funds to pay for the child’s private education.
It is pertinent that parent advocates have knowledge of the complex laws and regulations governing special education disputes, According to Reichardt (2010) describes that court systems evaluate each parent’s ability to organize and accurately meet the overall needs of their child. Including assessing the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child. When preparing a family for a legal case for their child with disabilities it is important that he parent has the ability to review and copy all school records involving testing, IEP’s eligibility and special education services the student is receiving from the school. IDEA specifically states that the parents have full rights to view all of their child’s school records. “ Since all significant special education legal decisions require a parent’s involvement and consent, the records can demonstrate the parents level of collaborative efforts with the school on behalf of their child with learning disabilities” ( Reichhardt,2010,p.6).
Reichardt (2010) describes that school districts are required to have financial funding for the placements and services that have been identified for all IEP’s .In many circumstances children with disabilities require additional services such as occupational, physical, mental therapies. In the local arena for students with disabilities , the students receive service from the “Comprehensive Services Act and is administered through collaborative efforts between Community Policies and Management teams, in addition to Family Assessment and Planning Teams (FAPTS) (Reichardt, 2010, p.6). For parents involved in a legal dispute with their child’s school district represent a powerful message for parent advocacy for students with learning disabilities.
Research on the legal issue
According to research conducted by Tandy and Heffernan (2006) legal issues that parents have to navigate through as advocates for their child with learning disabilities include acquiring legal representation in IDEA cases that present the child’s parent as the client in an IDEA claim. “IDEA has provisions for procedural rights for parents, this includes the parents making decisions on behalf of their child” (Tandy & Heffernan, 2006, p.1399). Courts have explained that IDEA as granting parents , according to Tandy and Heffernan (2006) the right to sue for procedural violations of the provisions under the IDEA act that protect their child and the parents can address their own substantiate claims in district courts.
Under the laws of IDEA, all parties, that includes the family, and the school district are entitled to review by the judicial court and that parents are “aggrieved regardless of whether the rights being asserted are procedural or substantive”(Tandy & Heffernan, 2006, p.1399). The court in addition recognizes that parents are the vested parties who have rights to protect their interests and the interest of their child. Legal representation is of best interest to the parents and child for pursuing claims against the school and/or school district. The fourth Circuit court stands by the IDEA rights to parents that “practical recognition that parents are vested with the authority and obligation to oversee their child’s education and to enforce their child’s rights” (Tandy & Heffernan, 2006, p.1399)
Research conducted on fairly current case involves a parents advocating for parental participation in IEP development according to the legal case, (Doug C. v. Hawaii Department of Education, 2013). According to the research about the case that was issued, filed by Doug C. on behalf of Spencer C. , his 18 year child, the regulations under IDEA require that schools instill full participation of parents by providing notice of meetings in a timely manner, scheduling of meetings that is mutually agreed upon by school personnel and parent, informing the parent of the purpose, time and meeting place and whom will be in attendance, and providing communication to the parents that they can bring others to the meeting if they do so chose.
The circumstances involved in the case were the school proceeding with IEP meetings without the father, Doug C., after several attempts were made by the father to schedule meetings during times that would work for the father. When the follow up to the IEP meeting that was conducted without the parent came about the Doug C., the father rejected the IEP from the school because he was not involved in the development of the IEP. However, even with the father disagreeing with the IEP, the school proceeded on to no changes in the IEP document for the student.
As a result of what happened between the parent and IEP team, the parent filed a due-process hearing and removed his child from the public high school and enrolled the student at a private “failure to ensure the participation of Doug C. in the IEP meeting resulted in denial of his son’s FAPE for his son” (Yell, Katsiyannis, & Losinski, 2015, p.119). In the end the Circuit Court ruled that the school district’s efforts to include the parent in the meetings were insufficient and that the special education coordinator denied the parent request to reschedule the IEP meeting.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (20 U.S.C. § 1400[c][B]) found that there was no jurisdiction in IDEA that allows schools personnel to providing services to students even if their IEP has lapsed. “ The court held that when a school district violates the IDEA by developing a new IEP without parent participation , only including the parent in the follow up meeting is not warranted to satisfy the requirements of the law because IDEA requires parental involvement in the development process of the student’s plan”( Doug C. v. Hawaii Department of Education,2013, p.1048) The issue of the parent, Doug C. receiving reimbursement from the school district for the cost of his son’s private school education that he enrolled him was referred to the back to lower court for ruling to see if the parent was entitled to reimbursement of the private school cost.
The research study conducted by Burke (2013) examines efforts to improve and train parents on parent advocacy for their children with disabilities. The two models described in the study is a Special Education Advocacy Training and Volunteer Advocacy Project. The article analyses, how “parents may need advocates to assert their special education rights and how advocates may be trained in special education law and advocacy” (Burke, 2013, p.224)
According to the practices implemented into IDEA, parental involvement and participation with their child’s academic success has a direct and indirect impact on the student’s success. These include a decrease in dropout rate, improves student achievement, improves student attendance, and decrease in challenging behaviors. Additionally the need for parent-school collaboration is high in priority to the planning and goals for the child with disabilities. Without active participation of the parent issues can easily be misconstrued and turn into legal issues and/or hearings and a break down in relationships within the parent/school dynamic, not to mention the financial cost and stress on the parent.
The SEAT and VAP models of parent advocacy training involves the development of a “training for special education advocates, duplicating SEAT sites and the feasibility, evaluation of the effectiveness of the program and analyze the findings of the project”(Burke,2013,p.228). The VAP project “provides instrumental support to families, affective support, places volunteer advocates to at least four families, grows and improves training model. And research advocacy trainings” (Burke, 2013.p.229). Both training programs are of significant importance to understanding and improving parent involvement and advocacy in schools. The resources of having advocates to assist and train parents for their child’s IEP and FAPE and collaboration skills with the schools offers a tool to build on the parents communication skills, amass knowledge of their rights as a parent in their child’s education planning and the power of their voice to be heard in the relationship between school and parent.
The study conducted by White (2014) examines better understanding of parent issues and dissatisfaction with the services their child is receiving in their education setting for student with disability. The study examines the dissatisfaction and investigations into parent complaints for a children with Autism Spectrum Disorder however, this issue could be related to any parent whom has a child with disabilities receiving educational services. Between the years of 2004 through 2009 various parent complaints were examined and the common themes of the complaints analyzed were of the issues with their child’s “IEP information and implementation, parent participation and involvement” (White, 2014, p.80)
The parental participation and involvement complaints filed included issue with parents and the schools fostering parental input and participation in the various areas of the special education process. Break downs in communication were noted in the parent-school communication including information requested by the parent to the school were not given to the parent. Other issues involved with parental participation and involvement included that written requests to the school for outside independent evaluations were not responded to in a timely manner, procedural violations involving their “child’s IEP included failure to give notice of consent for changes to their child’s IEP, student placement, evaluations procedures not agreed upon by the parent”(White,2014,p.83).
Complaints addressing IEP content and implantation dealt with the lack or excluded information that should be in the child’s IEP that include detailed, measurable goals and objectives and provisions of services for the child. Additional complaints were that important services for their child such as supports, and accommodations in the IEP where not implemented in a timely manner at the beginning of the school year not implanted as documented in the IEP. Thus creating situation where students were not receiving services from “speech/occupational therapy, counseling, and paraprofessional assistance.(White,2014,p.82) According to White (2014) factors that were an influence in failure to deliver visual supports, additional technology, individual schedules and assignment modified for the student were lapse in staff coverage, inadequate resources, parent concerns and disagreement with IEP content, resulting in the delay of provisions for the student.
Legal implications for students and/or families
The legal implications for students and their parents is the need for more parent advocacy and self-advocacy. Without the knowledge of the IDEA principles and laws the student and parent can lose the opportunities to have their voice heard in the beginning of an evaluation process or during IEP development and implementation. Students and parents should not depend on the other members and school committees to deliver information and steps of the IEP as their only resource. Parents need to explore their own research on their child’s disability, IDEA statue and laws, legal parent protection under IDEA and work with their children to advocate for themselves if they have the ability to. The legal implications on parents require that parents know and practice the following: According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (2017) the rights under IDEA include:
- The rights of the parent to be involved in every decision in their child’s education, including the need for special services for the child, the right to have a document put in writing the need for an evaluation to see if their child qualifies for special education services.
- In addition, the school must collaborate with the parent to collect information from the parent, teacher and other school staff that would be beneficial in addition to the assessment that has to be conducted on the area of learning that is being affected on the child.
- Other rights include, teachers can recommend and evaluation but must get the written consent from the parent, the child cannot be considered for special education services because of limited English ability or lack of instructional service in reading g and writing.
- The parent advocate has the right to be a part of the evaluation team that makes the decision to determine eligibility.
- The parent has the right to a copy of all evaluation reports of their child, the right to obtain second opinion from an outside independent education evaluation from a qualified professional and challenge the school evaluation team findings from the evaluation that they conducted.
- The right for the child’s evaluation to be done by a certain timeframe.
The rights of the parent and child after the child has been determined eligible for special education services include:
- The right to attend in all IEP meetings including the planning and design. The first IEP meeting must happen within thirty days after eligibility was determined.
- Discuss any assistive technology that would be beneficial to the child in the classroom setting.
- The right to challenge decisions made by the school about their child.
- The right to disagree with the decision and collaborate with the school on a possible agreement.
- The right to explore other avenues if efforts are not worked out with the school.
- “IDEA provides other means of protection for parents and children under the law. Legal options include, due process hearing or formal hearing in a court of law” (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2017, p.2).
- An IEP must take place annually and a re-evaluation meeting every three years, if it is not necessary based on feedback from the IEP team it does not need to be re-evaluated. However, the parent has the right to request an IEP meeting on their request do matter what time.
rights that parent must advocate for are According to White (2014) Lack of knowledge in educators to appropriately serve students with disabilities, parents about special education procedures and additional pressure on school staff. School districts are required to provide parents with written documentation special education procedures to keep parents informed of their rights as parents. Parent need to be assertive yet cooperative working with schools to receive this information.
In addition, part of the process of learning to be an advocate for their child involves reaching out to services from advocacy organizations such as the resources, Pacer Center for Assistance for Children with Disabilities, Special Education Advocacy –Wrightslaw. Areas of research need to be devoted to parent-school communication and how this effects the parent, student and the family unit. Topics could include the stress levels on parents and/or depression on parents and students. Parent need to review their child’s IEP as many times as necessary to if all parts of the plan are matching what was discussed with the parent and planned with the parent. Workshops about parent advocacy, special education rights, and building cooperative communication with parent-school collaboration would be avenues for parents to explore.
For the student, knowing what works best for them having to do with their learning styles, their future goals, education goals and preferences, job interests, skill ability, social activity and ability and family support systems can help empower their ability to advocate for themselves. The student can also join organizations in the community that support their goals and disability. By the student empowering themselves with the support of the parent, they can work with local community resources to find places of employment that will offer on the job training and knowledge to be active participants in their local community.
Parents can also research their local community to find resources for legal representation that focuses on students with disabilities, agencies that offer programs and assistive living for children with disabilities so their children can receive additionally therapies and vocational training outside of the school setting. Additionally, parents will have to organize all documentation of meetings and services in a way that will help them stay organized, especially if their child has been receiving services for consecutive years by placing documentation into organized files based on the year and the type of documentation. This will help the parent to prepare themselves if they ever pursue legal action against the school and it will help the parent have evidence of the efforts the parents have made on behalf of their child, they know their child better than anyone else.
The legal implications for family and community engagement
The implications on the relationship between family and community engagement can have affects that can make it challenging for families to work cooperatively and productively without bias. In a situation where legally it was found that a school did not effectively satisfy the requirements of parent participation it can be complex rebuilding relationships with parents. Do other parents in the school and other schools in that same school district lose trust and respect for credibility for the school and the district? Was this just a onetime occurrence or is this happening with other students with disabilities in the district. When it comes to the parent and community engagement the thoughts and ideas of the parent in the planning developing and changes to their child IEP come before and are of higher significance than a school ‘s requirements to meet deadlines on IEP’s.
When a breakdown of communication and distrust has happened the parent and school community will have to make a vested effort in reevaluating and rebuilding the foundations of the principles of family-community engagement. These principles include, according to Family and Community Engagement (2017) culturally sensitive communication-strong communication, anti-bias education which teach culturally relevant family engagement strategies that help students and families feel as though they are understood, inclusion of family and community wisdom, and increased connections among families. Strategies include “family interviews, family events, family engagement projects, parent education programs, using inclusive terminology, use of home language, assume good intentions, respect differences, view cultural and family diversity as a strength, recognize personal differences and background and how that might shape the relationship between teachers and parents”(Family and Community Engagement,2017, p.1-2).
Reestablishing the importance in family-school partnerships is also a result of legal implications on family and community engagement. “Schools that work together in the community with parents, and the community help in promoting the well-being and learning of all students” (Why Family and Community, 2017, p.1). Schools that keep parents involved the use of collaborative relationships with parents and local community resources are able to effectively meet the needs of the student population. These relationships nurtured with partnerships among schools, parent’s community groups and family. Practical implications for students of this positive process is students that have had parent that advocate for their education and the students, according to Why family and Community (2017) are able to adapt well to school, have regular attendance, complete assignments, have higher grades, succeed in school and transition to college, good social skills, good behavior, strong relationship with parents, good self-esteem.
The efforts made by the school, parent, and community should be focused on what is most important, the children the community serves. Looking over difference of opinion, difference in cultural beliefs, personal bias, and negative attitudes from legal issues is what parents, schools and community have to do to in order to benefit the relationships built. Parent advocacy can be supported and promoted not just in the local community support groups but the school can help build relationships with parents by giving them opportunities for meetings and open forum with other parents to conduct parent advocacy group meetings in the school and work with school staff and district personnel to work on solutions to current concerns or issues.
In conclusion, other implications can come about from staff changes in the school due to the legal and district action. The teachers and principal that was previously in the school have be transferred and new leaders teachers come in and have to updated and informed on the developments and strategies in an individual student’s IEP. Parents can be a big support to new staff and teachers brought into their child’s IEP team. Opening up communication and positive feedback is a step in the right direction with a fresh start with support from the school towards the student and the parents. Issues in the education of students with disabilities is constantly evolving and all in invested need to strive for the success of all students in the community.
Practical implications for teachers will be to maintain a positive and culturally sensitive relationship with parents, communicate all issues and concerns with parents, meet with parents as often as they request, welcome parents to sit in or volunteer in the classrooms. Teachers will hold themselves accountable for all information shared with IEP team in meetings and have documentation in writing for parents when a request is made, and be open and friendly to email, face to face and phone conversations with parents. Follow through with all members of the IEP plan for each student to make sure all the steps and services for the child have been put into place and accommodations are being met. With regular participation and feedback from the parent for the child with disabilities.
Summarizing the findings
The findings from the research conducted on legal issues of parent advocacy for children with learning disabilities find that there is significant concerns by parents that have to do with parent participation and implementation of IEP’s. The findings from research articles and court case reviewed showed an issue with school staff involved in IEP teams not making a significant effort to meet the needs of the parents in participation in their child’s IEP. In addition, another concern addressed is that lack of knowledge and awareness of parent rights for parents whom have a child with a learning disability.
According to the findings, what can a parent do to support their student that has a learning disorder and they are beginning to enter a school setting. Parents can build on the philosophy that Knowledge is power, parents with a child that has a learning disability can do their research on resources and laws and legislature for students with learning disabilities. The parent resource guide published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (2006) that provides information to parents as a comprehensive guide to their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). The saying knowledge is power is has a distinct place in the role of parents becoming advocates for their child with a learning disability. According to Morin (2017) ways to be an effective parent advocate include, knowledge-stay informed on the child’s learning disability, including current research, online resources such as you tube videos, and parent workshops.
The findings also indicate that there is ample evidence of parents successfully challenging their child’s school and winning. Because the parent was effective at building a relationship with the school, trying to resolve issues at the school with the team, effectively persuades legal action to support their child’s case, and provides organized and substantial documentation of what was done and was not done that must be provided for in their child’s IEP according to the provisions in IDEA. The findings also reiterate that, the regulations under IDEA require that schools instill full participation of parents by providing notice of meetings in a timely manner, scheduling of meetings that is mutually agreed upon by school personnel and parent, informing the parent of the purpose, time and meeting place and whom will be in attendance, and providing communication to the parents that they can bring others to the meeting if they do so chose. In conclusion, the findings explain that legal action is a challenging and stressful discussion for a parent to consider and it is important to acknowledge again to exhaust all other avenues with the school and district before proceeding to legal discourse.
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