As the parent of a child with unique learning needs, you understand how difficult it can be to ensure that your child has the support and care they deserve. Children in California with disabilities have specific rights, including the right to a free and appropriate public education, and schools and educators have an obligation to respect and uphold those rights.
If your child qualifies for special education services, they will likely have an Individualized Education Program. This is a plan that outlines the specific types of services and support your child will receive while in the classroom. As the parent, you have the right to know the details of your child’s IEP as well as how effectively its terms are implemented in the classroom.
Creating an effective IEP
An IEP will establish clear and measurable goals for your child as well as outline the types of services, modifications, and accommodations your child should receive in the classroom. The specific types of support listed will depend on the severity of your child’s needs, their cognitive abilities, physical capabilities, and other factors that are unique to his or her situation. Your child’s IEP should contain the following:
- An explanation of your child’s current state and functional performance in the classroom.
- A description of the progress your child has already made as well as goals for continued success and educational growth.
- An explanation of the services and educational aids your child requires in order to succeed in the classroom.
- A list of the accommodations your child needs and information regarding how the teachers and support staff will provide them.
- Details of the type, frequency, and duration of services your child will receive.
Not only do you have the right to know what’s your child’s IEP, but you also have the right to ask questions and provide suggestions that you believe will benefit your child. You are your child’s most important advocate, and you have a right to fight on their behalf. If you believe your child is experiencing a violation of their educational rights, legal action may be appropriate and necessary.