Adverse Impact - ARD mtg tomorrow- can someone help me understand this?


IDEA is a Federal Regulation. It is applicable to ALL states. Each State agrees to abide by the Fed regs or they don't get federal money. Federal regs supercede state law.

There are areas in the Federal Regs that are silent. In these instances, States are allowed to forumulate their own laws. has Texas' side-by-side rules for Special Education. It's a good example of how a state's Special Education laws must parallel the Federal regs.


New Member
Thanks for that.
I don't understand why I couldn't find something that was that 'clear' in all these months searching online! geesh

One thing I have noticed though is that repeatedly in the federal laws where it concerns the various disabilities eligible it states if it "adversely affects their academic performance". Apparently my son's school reads that to mean adversely affecting their academic performance is characterized by if they are failing and/or they test only below a standard "norm" (even if that means ignoring severe discrepencies).

I don't read it that way. I read it as it can be adversely affecting the child's academic performance if they aren't performing to their ability and/or the disability is affecting areas of their life that are causing them to not perform to their ability.

Am I wrong to read it that way?


Apparently my son's school reads that to mean adversely affecting their academic performance is characterized by if they are failing and/or they test only below a standard "norm"

It's not uncommon. "Failing" is often used by sd's as a measurement of educational need. It is a non-compliance issue.

Massachusetts DOE attempts to explain some educational needs instances at
is cut and pasted below. These are excerpts and it's easier to read if you click on the link.

The Team first clarifies the educational needs that result from the student’s disability(ies). In other words, the Team describes the impact of the student’s disability(ies) on student’s participation in the general curriculum and the school. To keep the IEP focused, only areas affected by the disability should be described. Clear descriptions of how the disability(ies) impacts progress will better assist Teams in determining the most appropriate and individualized accommodations and special education services.

The IEP must also address areas of other educational need.
Student participation and progress in the general curriculum is a core
concept of IDEA-97; however, it is not the only required purpose of special education. The Team must also take a broader look at the student’s overall
involvement within the school including participation in extracurricular and
other nonacademic activities and, for preschool students, participation in
appropriate activities to ascertain other areas of need. The Team may
consider how students communicate with others, how the students’ behavior
affects their learning or the learning of others, how assistive technology
could support effective progress or how the students’ disabilities affect
transition to post-secondary activities.

When discussing how a student’s disability(ies) affects transition to postsecondary activities, the Team must ensure that its discussion relates to the Vision Statement based on the student’s preferences and interests (on IEP 1) and considers vocational education options that include a full range of occupational and career development possibilities. A Team that concludes a student’s IEP should include vocational education must ensure that the student’s IEP addresses how the disability would impact vocational education and include measurable, annual goal(s) and the necessary special education, related services and supplementary aids and services needed for the student to reach the vocational goal.

Some needs will be addressed through accommodations.
Accommodations are modifications that are typically provided by general
educators within the general education environment. Preferential seating, Ipencil grip use or cooperative learning strategies are some examples of these
kinds of typical accommodations. Accommodations do not involve modifying the material content but do allow students to receive information in a more effective manner.

Specially designed instruction addresses more complex needs.
Specially designed instruction addresses the unique needs of the student that
result from the student’s disability. Specially designed instruction is a modification not regularly provided for students in the general education program. Special education services will usually include “specially designed
instruction unless the students only require a related service(s) to access the
general curriculum. However, not all students will need specially designed
instruction in all areas of educational need and not all students will require
all types of specially designed instruction.

Specially designed instruction includes modifications that affect content, delivery of instruction, methodology and/or performance criteria and are necessary to assist the student in participating and learning. This instruction is designed by or with an appropriately credentialled special education teacher or related service provider.

For some students, teachers may need to present information through the use of manipulatives or may need to give oral rather than written quizzes. For other students, teachers may need to select and teach only important key concepts and then alter evaluation activities and criteria to match this content change.

In each case, the Team must decide whether an instructional methodology should be included in a student’s IEP. Generally, if the methodology is an essential part of what is required to meet the individualized needs of the student, the methodology should be included. For instance, if a student has a learning disability and has not learned to read using traditional methods, then another method may be required. When including such an IEP recommendation, the Team should describe the components of the appropriate type of methodology as opposed to naming a specific methodology.

The Team should tailor their suggestions to the unique needs and circumstances of the student and keep their attention centered on what the school district can do to help the student. Educators will be better assisted in implementing the IEP and improving the education results for students with clear and specific recommendations.


New Member
Thank you again for the additional information.
I'm not sure whether you are agreeing with the way I'm reading that or the way they are though. It's not your fault and I appreciate your help. I think I'm just kinda getting overload in the brain and not understanding stuff now- my brain is like just not functioning on this subject like it should. *sigh* I may be having a little bit of panic feelings about what I'm going to do/say at the ARD meeting on Thursday. I'm just at a loss and trying to figure it all out. I don't want to mess up. This is my child's future we're talking about here. Yanno? It's a heavy load to bear sometimes.


I believe our interpretations to be similar.

I read the info to say that the student's own performance vs ability is the measurement -- not an arbitrary "norm." No where in the regs does it say that that a child has to fail in order to present adverse academic performance.

To the contrary, the regs state, "Section 300.101(c) has been revised
to clarify that a free appropriate public
education (FAPE) must be available to
any individual child with a disability
who needs special education and
related services, even though the child
has not failed or been retained in a
course, and is advancing from grade to

Not only do many district's use failing as a measurement, it's not uncommon for the student to have to be 2 years behind. Our district told me flat out, "We don't worry about it until they are two years behind." When I asked for a copy of the State or Federal law that states this, it was never produced because it doesn't exist.

Your meeting should be pretty cut and dried.

Mom: I want an IEE.

Sd says: yea or nay.

If nay, you say, "I'll need that in writing. When will I receive notice of the Due Process Hearing -- what's the timeline? I'll need Procedural Safeguards."

You'll do fine.


New Member
Hi Sheila,
It's interesting that you said this part:
"To the contrary, the regs state, "Section 300.101(c) has been revised
to clarify that a free appropriate public
education (FAPE) must be available to
any individual child with a disability
who needs special education and
related services, even though the child
has not failed or been retained in a
course, and is advancing from grade to

Because we had the 2nd ARD meeting today and boy was it a doozy. 3hrs long and everyone and their DOG (hehe) showed up when I was only expecting the principal, myself and Special Education teacher according to the papers they sent me saying that. Turned out it was me, teacher, principal, Special Education DIRECTOR (not there last time), and the other Special Education teacher that was there before, diagnotician, psychologist that did the evaluation of my son, AND someone they called the district psychologist or something like that.

Anyway, it was mighty crowded in the principal's office- let's just put it that way. LOL

Anywho, we discussed a lot of things and it would be too long to describe everything said/etc. But let's see- to put it briefly:
This time I was more forceful and less timid about saying what I felt about everything/etc. and they seemed more receptive to what I had to say- perhaps because some of the "bigwigs" were there? namely the Special Education director and such?

The Special Education director and the psychologist BOTH agreed that I made a very valid point when I asked why fighting an IEP for my son saying he's not eligible but then turning around and saying that they could still help him with social skills classes, BIP, etc. even though he's not eligible.

The Special Education director said that
A) there is no law that says if I "agree" with their assessment that he can't be evaluated again for a year? She said she'd like me to find where federal or state law mandates this- so I'm going to look into that.
B) that FAPE is an obligation of theirs for Special Education children AND they have the same FAPE obligation for general ed children-- which is why they would still be obligated to help him in areas he needed help even if he didn't qualify for an IEP under IDEA. (which kinda sounds like what you posted above- that could be read that even if they aren't eligible for an IEP under IDEA or found to have a disability that ALL children must get an FAPE? kinda sorta maybe?)
C) When I expressed concern that even if they agree to everything I think he needs help with- that without the IEP under IDEA that they could just decide later he didn't need those things and stop- she said that if they put it in writing what we're going to do- sort of an IEP even though it's not under IDEA or Special Education that if they discontinued the services for him and I didn't agree- that I could complain to the school district and that's taken very seriously.
A friend of mine that works involved with Special Education and ARD meetings in another SD/another town said that what they said is true- that complaints like this are taken serious and that in fact only just the mention of a lawyer in a complain such as this would end up with the SD turning some heads at the school. True?
D) she said she would be sending a letter of denial of my request of IEE and we'd have to go thru due process/etc.

E) we came to an agreement and I want your thoughts on it.
Basically I signed the papers "disagree with the assessment" and checking disagree on the form- but I also signed another paper listing out the services I was requesting and they were going to offer him, that we're going to meet within 1 week to go over an "IEP" based on those services, BIP, etc., and that as a condition of those things being followed thru I withdraw my request for an IEE-so we don't have to go thru the due process stuff.
So basically I got it in writing that it's going to be in writing for an IEP for him even though it's thru gen ed instead of Special Education.
It was also noted in it that I would be getting a neuro evaluation and possibly behavior assessment testing done on him (on my own- not their expense... just something I want to do anyway) and that depending on the results of that testing they would have another meeting to reassess his eligibility if needed based on the results of said testing (in other words if I get him tested with neurologist and/or neuropyschologist and he IS diagnosed or found to be like aspergers or nonverbal learning disorder/etc. they would reassess his eligibility for the Special Education program thru IDEA and all that)

So did I do okay?
I hope so.
It just seemed like they were being very cooperative- they wanted to know exactly what I felt he needed or areas he could be helped with, his weaknesses, etc. And they asked the teachers and everyone else there too who also had some suggestions in some areas. Then we talked about what *I* felt would help with those things and then basically I disagreed with the assessment but withdrew my request for an IEE thru them on the "in writing" condition that we'd be meeting within a week to go over the IEP that would cover the resources he would receive that we discussed it the meeting, the BIP, etc. Have you ever heard of an IEP for gen ed students? Have you ever heard of them saying that they have an obligation to help children with resources, classes, a BIP, etc. even in gen ed even if they found them ineligible for an IEP under idea/ie: Special Education?

Anyway, it just seemed they were being cooperative and that having it in writing gave me at the very LEAST a leg to stand on with complaining to the school district (as in they coerced me to withdraw my request for IEE with this written promise of giving him these services, BIP, etc. and then didn't do it - that type of thing) and this way everyone is still cooperating and things are pleasant/etc. Know what I mean?? I started thinking hey- they are offering everything I think he needs help with and if I balk at this SOLELY because he wouldn't have the IEP under IDEA and go thru due process/court hearing and such- if I were to LOSE... they might be unlikely to be as cooperative as they are now and still allow for all this help, BIP, etc. after that. IN fact I've read on here even people that have gone thru due process and WON experiencing retaliation in many forms from the school... not only for that child but others. (and I have a 1st grader in that school now too!)

So do you think it was okay to go along with this since they are being cooperative and not fight the system if he's getting what he needs anyway- and it's in writing?

Let me know what you think. I really do appreciate your help and respect your opion and advice. :D


New Member
Oh and by the way- the things mentioned and in writing are the things I asked for and/or some added that were mentioned by the teacher and such.
Basically things like he's going to get to go to some resources class that is NOT just Special Education children (and none of us were afraid if he missed some of class he would fall behind- not hardly. And he misses regular class for GT and dual language as it is and never falls behind anyway) for about 20min 2-3 times a week and in that class he will work on social skills and they mentioned something about doing social stories or something like that? The full definition of that isn't on the paper- just the class.
They also said he'd work (atleast one day a week, more if needed) with the counselor working on recognizing and using appropriate emotions, facial expressions, etc. They said she had charts and exercises they could work on to help him with that.

Also as part of the social skills/nonverbal learning disorder AND part of the BIP where it concerns behavior- the teachers will be verbal with him in all ways especially concerning recognizing facial expression, body language, recognizing personal space, when teachers are busy, when he's interrupting, etc. -doing it verbally because he understands everything verbally and we all feel that eventually by expressing these verbally and getting him to recognize them verbally that eventually he'll learn it nonverbally without everything having to be explained verbally.

The BIP will involve such things as motivational tools instead of punishment for behaviors that are related to his social skill issues, nonverbal communication issues AND to help him learn to control his anger/mood swings/etc. especially concerning learning how to handle frustration appropriately (which is a big thing because when he gets frustrated -he doesn't act appropriately and that's what got him almost sent to AEP last year)
Also they are going to work on other "punishments" besides the norm- such as instead of just taking points off for misbehavior, depending on the behavior they'll use other things.. motivational tools for good behavior, if it's related to losing his temper we talked about how to help him calm down instead of just saying okay that's 2 pts off your conduct grade -that type of thing (such as allowing him a quiet spot to calm down or having him sit next to the teacher a couple of minutes- since that is what works at home when he goes ballistic over simple things. I can't send him to his room- he loses it even worse and tears up his room- but sit him next to me within 1-2 minutes he calms down. And giving points off his conduct is only making him more upset with himself and more frustrated- that type of thing)

We also will include things like communication with me from the teachers- since we had some issues with that last year (previous teacher not responding to my emails nor my notes sent to school, sending notes home about misbehavior without requiring my signature- therefore my son would discard those at school and I never knew, etc.) So basically they are going to be required to keep constant communication lines open by emails, notes sent that must be signed that way they know if they receive it back signed that I actually saw it. This will be important because the motivational tools are going to include ME giving rewards for good behavior at school and without good communication I never know if he had behaved or not. We had some problems with this last year with me rewarding him weekly for good behavior only to find out later he HAD misbehaved and they just hadn't let me know and/or sent a note not requiring signature -so I never saw it/etc.

Couple of other things I can't recall at the moment. But you get the basics of what it's about- basically getting resources he needs and a BIP that will work better for him. Oh yeah and they even included things like helping him with tying his shoes. LOL That was mentioned as far as when I was discussing his weaknesses in fine and gross motor skills and the Special Education director said she'd make sure that was worked with too. I'm not sure how it will help though. Not like I haven't been trying to help him for years and he practices all the time- especially since his younger sister already knows how to tie her shoes. But that was one other thing noted that they'd work on.
So whatcha think?


Have you ever heard of an IEP for gen ed students?

To my knowledge, there's no such thing. In order for a student to have an IEP and for parents and student to have the Procedural Safeguards specified in IDEA, the student must be deemed eligible for an IEP by the IEP Committee (ARD).

The Federal IDEA regs sets forth the minimum that school districts must do for students with disabilities. The states and LEAs can always do more than required if they want to.

that I could complain to the school district and that's taken very seriously.

They do if a parent has a competent attorney involved. lol

You'll want to read and thoroughly understand all the fine print in the Agreement and make sure it is signed by the appropriate school district authorities. I don't know who that would be, but suspect it would need to be someone in the chain of command as high or higher than the Special Education Director. You'd have to consult with an attorney well versed in education law to see how enforceable this type of Agreement is if push comes to shove.

I'm suspicious of sd's by nature, so I can't help but wonder what their strategy is. lol Maybe I've just heard too many stories and your sd is one that will honor such an Agreement.

Negotiating can be an important part of the process. It sounds like both parties got what they wanted, e.g., you are to get the supports that difficult child needs; the sd does not have to pay for the IEE and they saved face. Additionally, a formal written Agreement with the school district bolsters your position that difficult child is a student with a disability and is evidence that the sd concurs. All things considered, not a bad outcome and very encouraging.

Rather amazing what Certified Mail and a Warrior Mom can do, isn't it?

Be sure and keep us updated.


New Member
Yes, rather amazing what a certified letter, warrior mom, AND YOU GUYS (especially you Sheila) can do. Thank you so much for all your help!

I'm suspicious as well. I'm suspicious because I just AM by nature (LOL and probably always will be) but also because of things I have read here and elsewhere online. That is why I felt I should push the issue of an IEE when they didn't find him eligible and all that- but I guess I decided to give it a go since they are being so cooperative to give him the help he needs and that's all that is important. Now granted they may be cooperative and IF he still needs help when he's out of this school and into 5th grade/intermediate school- I may have to go thru all this again because who knows if the next school will be so cooperative. However, that's why I'm glad it was the Special Education director and the "head honcho" psychologist (whatever she's called- I forget.. LOL) were present for the meeting and THOSE are the two that mostly talked with me about the "IEP" we'd be working on and both will be at the next meeting too.
by the way this Special Education director is not just for this school- she's the Special Education director for the entire school district. Which I'm sure is why she wasn't present at the first ARD meeting but apparently they decided this was one ARD meeting she for sure should attend. LOL I dunno.

Anyway, I'm glad you don't think it's a bad outcome or I've completely messed things up with my decision. LOL I think you're right that they've negotiated mostly to save face and to not have to pay for an IEE (or at the very least go thru due process to say why it's not needed).

I also think that this agreement in writing MAY NOT be all that enforceable later but it will give me somewhat a leg to stand on when complaining to the school district, if it came to that. And also, I think it would help let's say later on I'm forced to have to go thru this mess again with the evaluation/etc. they are going to be hardpressed to say they don't think he needs help AT ALL when they've already helped him the past and put it in writing and such. Yanno? That's why I wanted it in writing. Even if this IEP for general ed is a bunch of malarky they made up- the fact that they did that is going to show in the future that they obviously felt it was needed even when they didn't find him eligible. I do wish I'd known about this change that happened on Aug 14th though because that was their basis on all counts of why he wasn't eligible- that there was no "educational need" based on his grades being so good and his testing being in the "norm standard" even when he had huge discrepencies.

All in all I think it turned out well for both "parties" of the negotiation and hopefully they'll stick to their side of what they promised... for my son's sake. I do think they care about him personally. They all seem to know him well and are constantly making comments about what a great kid they think he is and how he's one of the brightest kids they've ever had in their school etc. etc. I think I just had to "ram home" (so to speak) that he does have difficulties in some areas and it was just a little hard for them to swallow at first because all they can think about how is how bright he is and such. Know what I mean?? Hard to explain, not sure I explained that right. Like the principal said she would even transfer him to another school if I wanted- but she hoped he'd stay there because she enjoys having him in her school/etc. It's hard to explain. But this time it was more of a discussion between all of us (unlike the first time where they just said this and that and then said he's not eligible) and I have you and this board to thank for my increased confidence in talking more in the meeting and such. Know what I mean??

thanks sheila and thanks to this board. Love you all!


I do wish I'd known about this change that happened on Aug 14th though because that was their basis on all counts of why he wasn't eligible- that there was no "educational need" based on his grades being so good and his testing being in the "norm standard" even when he had huge discrepencies.

This is nothing new, so it wouldn't have mattered. Rest assured that they already knew it. It's just been written into IDEA 2004 whereas before it was clarrified in policy letters from USDOE. If you'd have called their hand on it on Aug 14th, they'd have had some other excuse.

The Special Education Director was present at the meeting because the sd felt the need to bring out the big guns -- mom was self-educating and had valid points to make. lol The school district committee members took their cues from the Director, hence the change in attitudes and recommendations offered.

You kept the focus on what your child needs, and are to prepared to fight another battle another day if need be. You did good. :D


Now that you have time for "leisure" reading and to hone your advocacy

Learning to Negotiate is Part of the
Advocacy Process
by Brice Palmer, Advocate

Negotiating solutions to disputes and/or claims saves time and money. Most of our experience is in the civil area, but the techniques and skills in special education cases are the same. By using these techniques, we rarely are forced to take a Special Education case all the way to a hearing.

Here are a few techniques that have worked for us. Perhaps they will be helpful for you.

Four Rules to Guide You

1. Organize your records and files.

2. Distill your grievances (issues) into 1,2,3,4 outline format.

State your grievances in short declarative sentences. Eliminate or reduce modifiers, adjectives, four letter utterances, etc.

3. Correlate your evidence (documented supporting facts) to the issues. 1(a)(b)(c), etc.

4. Know what it is that you want.

Be specific!

When you make a statement like “I want my child to have a free appropriate education,” this is like asking for a piece of string of unknown or undefined length. Your statement of “I want . . .” must be followed by a "because." The "because" should come from your well-stated issues and your supporting factual evidence. Why? Because any issue that you identify as a grievance is a request that something be done differently than it is being done now.

Techniques & Tactics
Here are some techniques that work for us.

1. Listen carefully to the other side.

If you listen carefully enough, you’ll find that the other side often gives you good clues about how to solve the problem.

Don’t formulate a response until you give the other side a chance to express their thoughts and ideas.

There’s a saying: "It’s rude to continue talking when I am trying to interrupt." If you interrupt while the other party is talking, you’ll miss a lot of good stuff.

Think about watching a tennis player return the ball. Good players let the ball hit the ground before they take a whack. Players who predetermine their whack before the ball hits the ground get skinned.

2. Do not personalize statements made by the other side.

If you personalize, you’ll get your thin skin handed back to you, wrapped up in a loss.

Remember: you are engaged in a process to get the best deal you can for your child. You are not there to argue about whether you are overprotective or nasty. The school has to deal with nasty parents. The school's primary responsibility is to the child despite any parental hostility. The IDEA does not say “free appropriate education if the parents are nice to work with.”

The lawyers out there on the net are saying “yes, but . . .”

OK. I recognize there is case law out there that discusses parental hostility getting in the way of the provision of FAPE. In my opinion, these are the exceptions to the everyday trench trudging matters.

3. Learn to outline conversations and recognize educational jargon.

Much of what is said during meetings is informal conversation and is not germane to the issue(s) being discussed.

Train yourself to recognize murky education jargon. For example, if the IEP team says, “The school feels _________,” you can ask, “What exactly do you mean by “feel?”

What you are after is information about the basis for the school’s decision.

4. Try to figure out the best alternative to a negotiated resolution for you and the other side.

Some negotiation instructors use a memory device called BATNA. BATNA stands for Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement.

Try to figure out what your best alternative course of action would be if your negotiation fails to yield the results you want or are willing to accept.

Do the same thing for the other side. (This means you need to know what the other side wants)

If your position is that the child needs X service and the school is providing Y service, you have several choices if the school is intractable. One option is to accept Y as offered. Another is to file for a due process hearing.

What service(s) are available between X and Y that are appropriate, reasonably calculated to provide the child with educational benefit, given this child’s unique educational needs?

The method or procedure you determine during this process is likely to be your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. If you decide that the school's best alternative is a due process hearing, it is unlikely that you will find an informal resolution between X and Y.

5. Learn how to deal with different kinds of negotiators, including hardball players.

For parents who must negotiate without formal training and time to practice negotiating skills outside the trenches, here are a few techniques that will give them a better chance for success.

A. Prepare.
Before you attend a meeting or negotiation at any level, review your documents and notes. Outline your grievances and the facts that apply to these grievances.

Do not try to negotiate or argue your position based on a general working knowledge of historic events. It won’t work.

Know the facts that are relevant to your grievance. There has been a lot of ink put on pages describing what relevance or materiality means. For your purposes, use the “so what?” test.

Example: You allege that the school is providing only 15 minutes of Occupational Therapist (OT) services once a week, not 30 minutes sessions twice a week as written in the child's IEP. The school will offer as fact that the Occupational Therapist (OT) person has a hangnail and is working part time until the condition improves.

The “so what” test asks whether or not the offered fact has anything at all to do with the obligation to implement the IEP as it is written.

B. Know what you want to accomplish with specificity.
It does no good to argue a point and not be clear about how and in what manner you want your position to be implemented.

C. Know what your "throw-aways" are.
When you review your “wish list,” decide which items on your list are not important to your overall grievance or claim.

For example, many of the parents we represent want the school to issue a written apology. Ain’t gonna happen if the school has an attorney.

So, in this case, play "don’t throw me in the briar patch." Stand firm on the apology issue until you see a crack in the dam, then offer to throw the apology issue away in exchange for something you do want - and will benefit the child.

Negotiating is Part of the Advocacy Process

Opposing lawyers sometimes get together to lay out their respective cases. They banter back and forth about their opinions and whether a theory will fly or prevail or reach a jury or trump a position.

Through this process, they get a notion of the other side’s case and can squish it through the filter of conversation and reach a guess about the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case.

As often as not, depending on whether they represent plaintiff or defendant, they are trying to assess:

(1) how to minimize the damage to the defendant client if there is liability, or
(2) how to maximize the settlement value because of factual evidence supporting plaintiff client’s position.

I didn’t know any other way of doing things so when I started working on special education cases, I organized the documents, evaluated the records, reached a theory or theories of the case, and laid it out to the other side. In effect, this says to the other side that if the case goes to a hearing, this is the stuff the school district will have to deal with.

Finally, do not assume that your opponent is an accomplished negotiator. It is a myth that lawyers are good negotiators. This is just is not universally true.

Go into your mediation or negotiation session with confidence. You will find confidence by knowing exactly what you want and having facts to support your position.

Brice Palmer, Vermont Advocate

Read more articles by Mr. Palmer and other advocates.

You'll need to click on to get access to all the links within:

Doing Your Homework:
Alternatives to Name-Calling & Other Behaviors We Will Regret
by Suzanne Heath, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

Print this page

Murphy's Law: Parent Version

Law # 1 - The only tape recording the school will never misplace is the one of you being sarcastic at an IEP meeting.

Law #2 - If you lose your mind and call someone a name during an IEP meeting, that person will be connected to your child, in some way, for the next 1,000 IEP meetings.
Behaving Well: Alternatives to Name-Calling

Children need parents to have the necessary skills to behave well in frustrating situations. They cannot afford their parents to lose tempers or waste time learning on the job.

You need to anticipate that you will be caught off guard during meetings. When you are upset, you need to have skills and strategies in place that you can rely upon.

These articles describe some alternatives to name-calling and other behaviors you will regret.

Crisis Management, Step-By Step - Virtually nothing from the school requires an immediate response from you. Avoid taking action when you are angry, frustrated or feeling threatened.

Assertiveness and Effective Parent Advocacy - Being assertive is not the same as auditioning for the "Bombastic Hall of Fame." In this short article, parent advocate Marie Sherrett describes the joys and challenges of parent advocacy.

Reasonable Expectations, Power Struggles, and Perspectives - As advocate Pat Howey says, "There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Problems come from the manner in which disagreements are handled. I have learned that there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through meetings in a Mack Truck."

Mistakes Parents Make - Because the stakes are so high, it is difficult for parents of children with special educational needs to advocate calmly and objectively for the educational and related services their children need. Parent attorney Bob Crabtree describes some common mistakes that undermine parents' ability to obtain appropriate services.

Learning About School Districts, School Teams, Gatekeepers

Your emotions will be easier to manage when you you learn about school districts, school teams, and the mission of public schools.

When you advocate for your child, you are likely to meet Gatekeepers. The Gatekeeper's job is to say, "No!" Read 10 Reasons Why Schools Say No.

What do you do when you meet a Gatekeeper? Do you accept "No"? Read Gatekeepers: Their Job is to Say No.

Negotiating and Handling Disagreements

When Parents & Schools Disagree. Educational consultant Ruth Heitin describes common areas of disagreement between parents and schools and offers suggestions about how to handle these disagreements.

Learn more about advocacy strategies on Wrightslaw.


Meet Sue Heath
Sue Heath of Hollis, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

In addition to writing about creative advocacy strategies in Doing Your Homework, Sue is co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 1-892320-12-6) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

Sue is webmaster for the New Hampshire Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of New Hampshire, and the Brookline and Hollis Parent Council. She also serves on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC).

As a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Sue speaks to groups of parents, advocates, and educators about No Child Left Behind, reading, research-based instruction and strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Sue Heath's schedule & bio

Local Parents Learn About New Law (Hampton Union)

Copyright © 2002-2007 by Suzanne Heath.


New Member
Wow, so much information! Thank you so much, Sheila. You have truly been a blessing in helping me and ultimately helping my son! Seriously, if things go as I hope (and they will, even if I have to don my warrior armor again and again), my son is going to grow up to be a better well-rounded person and it will ultimately boil down to YOU being an important factor in that happening. I do hope you know how much you are appreciated by me/my family!

Negotiating is Part of the Advocacy Process

Opposing lawyers sometimes get together to lay out their respective cases. They banter back and forth about their opinions and whether a theory will fly or prevail or reach a jury or trump a position.

Through this process, they get a notion of the other side’s case and can squish it through the filter of conversation and reach a guess about the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case.

Now the preparing part I did my best on. I am usually a good "preparer" type and tried to bring everything I could -printouts, notes, etc. so that I didn't get flustered and forget things or go by memory alone.
As for the quote above- that's interesting to read considering I've been told by many that I really should have been a lawyer. LOL I can win those arguments- but can I help it that I'm usually right?
haha- kidding (sorta. After all, I only dig my feet in when I know I'm right! So that's why it appears I win any disagreements I'm involved in and why it appears I'm right all the time) But seriously- as far as debate in school/etc. Family and friends alike have told me for many years (I'm not a youngster- I'm 37) that I should have become a lawyer because I would have been good at it. Maybe so... we'll never know.
But in any case, what you described above is basically what I did. I went in there ready to have both barrels blazing if necessary and prepared (thru this board, you, and other researching online) to show "why" I'm right and what my son needs and why they should give him the help he needs/etc. but it wasn't long before I was analyzing what they were saying, primarily the SpecEd director, and weighing where it was apparent she had a 'weak' answer or argument to what I was saying and where she was willing to bend or give a little. It was quite interesting- at some point it became mostly just her and I talking and the rest were just listening and I didn't realize it until the end of the mtg. It was like all the sudden it dawned on me that there were still other people in the room. They totally sat there for like most of the mtg saying not a word. LOL
Okay maybe a word here or there but mostly it was just her (and myself) having this discussion.

I do kinda wish I'd recorded the meeting. Would have been interesting to listen to it again later and probably a good idea to keep for any "proof" needed later on because Lord knows I couldn't write everything down from a meeting hours long like it was!
I may seriously consider doing just that for future meetings. Is there anything wrong with doing that? Because I did have one moment earlier on in the mtg where the diagnotician flat out denied having said something she said in the previous ARD meeting (about how she witnessed my son behaving in both general and GT class- remember I told you the evaluation report stated something different than she said in the mtg? She turned around and denied having said something different than the evaluation report!) I basically let it go but not without saying well you did say it and not sure why you're denying it now but... and went on to discussing the important matters at hand.
But my point is that it was quite apparent at that moment that I had no proof if I didn't record meetings. Before I let it go I even looked around the room at the ones that had been present at the previous mtg and asked them if they remembered it and none of them did.
Whatever. It was discussed quite a bit at the first ARD mtg because the behavior she witnessed (not wanting to stop what he was working on, not responding to the teacher's directions to stop, said he was "in his own world", not getting involved in the class discussions in GT, etc.) she felt was a "good thing" in as far as he was not easily distracted- and I kept saying but what you're describing is not good things in as far as he's supposed to stop when the teacher says stop, he's not supposed to be in his "own world", he's supposed to participate in the class discussions/etc.) We discussed that quite a bit and then at this mtg she denies ever having said those things?
Big whatever
(so can I record our meetings?)

In any case, that lawyer stuff you mentioned is pretty much how things went and I guess my mind just works that way subconsciously. Maybe that's why people have always told me I should have been a lawyer and I'd be good at it. LOL

The Special Education Director was present at the meeting because the sd felt the need to bring out the big guns -- mom was self-educating and had valid points to make. lol The school district committee members took their cues from the Director, hence the change in attitudes and recommendations offered.
Wow, you are good. that sounds right on the money why she was there and what happened during that mtg. It was quite different than the first one. And ofcourse got more accomplished as well.

Thanks for saying I did good. I was really worried- you know, felt confident that things went well at first but then started second guessing myself afterwards and going back and forth feeling maybe I didn't do good, maybe I did, maybe I didn't. LOL It's enough to drive you mad- even if you AREN'T a worrywart which yes, I most certainly am. LOL Always have been, probably always will be. My mom has told me I was that way practically since I was born and my grandmother (passed when I was 9) was the same way. So I inherited it? Who knows. But point is that I am a worrywart and this type of stuff can set you over the EDGE if you're a worrywart by nature. Know what I mean??

Thanks again. I really do appreciate your help. I don't know what I'd do without you- and this board too ofcourse. Thank you all!

ps. I will update this thread when I hear back from them and have the meeting to go over the "pretend IEP" (not exactly sure what to call that LOL)