Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wrightslaw, Jean-Luc Picard, and Donning my Advocacy Armor

No, I haven't given up posting. (Or writing.) I'm on a hiatus of sorts, driven by the need to don my advocacy armor for my two youngest girls whose special needs require individualized educational plans (IEP). Why the need for protective gear? We discovered recently that our daughters' IEPs have so little built-in accountability that they're barely worth the paper they're written on.

After shoulding on myself for letting the inefficiencies go unchecked for so long, I vowed to make it right. First order of business was attending a kick-butt conference by Wrightslaw. While there, I networked and sought advice from parents who've gone before us on how to create effective, measureable, accountable IEPs, and came away with an action plan.

Not only have P and I vowed to make it right for our girls, we will borrow from our favorite Star Trek captain Jean Luc Picard and "make it so."

A small portion of what I learned at Wrightslaw (which is well worth the money for anyone considering it): Federal law is written to protect the rights of children with special needs to have a free and appropriate education. The burden of proof, however, is on the parents to know their children's rights so that they can create a plan that meets their unique needs for further education, independence and employment.

For parents who are already taxed by the day-to-day job of raising kids with special needs, it's a daunting prospect, one I personally believe many schools take advantage of. I'm grateful to report that thanks to Wrightslaw, I feel much more confident about the process.

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