Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are approaching. What if you just had an IEP team meeting, and you’ve said all you had to say?  You should STILL go to the conferences!  Don’t miss this opportunity to be face-to-face with your child’s teachers.  It’s a much different environment than an IEP team meeting.  At parent-teacher conferences, it’s just that teacher and you.  You’re typically meeting in the teacher’s comfort zone – her own classroom – and her boss isn’t lurking over your shoulders and running the meeting.  It gives you a unique opportunity to be heard, to learn more about this teacher’s personal perspective about your child, to ask specific questions that you might hesitate to ask in the larger, group setting, and to develop a rapport with this teacher that will carry you through the year.   It’s also a great time to get a look at the classroom and see where your child sits and how well organized or neat his desk is.  Laying eyes on the setup of the room will give you a better idea of how the day runs. Is there a classroom behavior chart? Are assignments listed on the board? Is there a quiet space set up?  Are there computers in the room?  Take it all in.

If you haven’t had an IEP team meeting with the new teachers yet, the parent-teacher conference is even more important.  This is a great time to introduce your child to the teacher – to set the stage and describe your child the

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What is Due Process?

In the world of special education, DUE PROCESS is like a mini trial. One party “files due process” against the other, and then there is a hearing with witnesses and evidence presented. An Independent Hearing Officer (IHO) is appointed by the Ohio Department of Education to hear the case and decide who wins and what they get. Either party can appeal the decision to state court.

Due process is available to any student with a disability who has an Individual Education Program (IEP). It is also available where a school district refuses to evaluate a student to see if they qualify for special education and related services.

Typically, it’s the parents of a child with special needs who will initiate a due process proceeding against a school district, but there are some rare situations in which the district will file due process against the parents. The individuals filing due process–again, this is typically the parents–have the burden of proof. This means that they have to prove to the IHO that Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) laws have been violated and that their child is entitled to something from the district. For this reason, and some others, the proceedings are stacked in favor of the district.

The trend we are seeing in due process matters is that the IHO will “split the baby,” meaning that they may find that the school district did not provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), but instead of requiring the district to pay for

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