Advocating for your Child in the School System

Special Education Advocate Mary Jo O’Neill wrote a feature article in the April issue of Autism Advocate Parenting Magazine: Advocating for your Child in the School System, where she provides advice on how to create an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP), how to form positive working relationships with your child’s educators and how to advocate for a successful school year for your child.  “You know your children best.  You know their strengths, their weaknesses and their capabilities. Although the school system can be difficult to navigate, it’s imperative for parents to advocate for their children, because they deserve a program that can give them the opportunity to thrive in education.”

Link to the full article: Advocating for your child in the School System 

 

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Preparing for College for a Student with a Disability

Graduation season is nearly upon us as high school seniors across the state are making plans for their next adventure. If you have a disability and choose to go on to college, there are additional steps required, both in choosing the right university and in seeing that your needs are met.

I’m talking to you, the student, not your parent. You’re likely 18 now and a legal adult, so it’s your turn to take the lead and pave the way to the future you’ve dreamed of. The college will be communicating directly with you, not your parents, from now on. If you want your parents involved, you’ll need to forward them all the information along the way. That may be a big change for you because, up until now, your parents had the power to make decisions about your education and the school had a legal obligation to see that your needs were met (follow your IEP or 504, ensure that you made progress, etc.) College is different – you must ask for what you need, and provide proof, before they’re required to provide it.

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Parent-Teacher Conferences: GO!

Many of you are probably getting notices about parent-teacher conferences approaching.  We know it’s yet another thing to add to your already busy schedule, but we highly encourage you to participate! Even if the parent-teacher conference is a virtual planform it still can be productive.

Conferences are your opportunity to gather data and feedback in between progress reports, which typically come out every nine weeks. Nine weeks is a long stretch if things aren’t going well.  You’ll want to discover problems sooner rather than later so that changes can be made.  COVID has made school more difficult for sure, but the school is still obligated, under IDEA law, to meet your child’s needs and make sure that he or she is making adequate progress in light of his or her unique circumstances.  Keep your eye on your child’s progress!

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Meet the Team: Linda Gorczynski – Attorney

Linda concentrates her practice on special education law, where she works with families and school administrators, to see that each child’s needs are properly identified and then met, in their least restrictive environment.  Linda has been at the IEP team table as a parent, as counsel for the school district and as counsel for the student, so she has a diverse understanding of the concerns, needs and barriers from each perspective.

📜 Graduate of Akron School of Law
👦🏻👧🏻👦🏼 Proud Mom of three
🏖 Beach Lover
🎥 Netflix Binge Watcher

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Introducing Getting Up to SPeED

We are excited to introduce Getting Up to SPeED, with Attorney Linda Gorczynski and Special Education Advocate Mary Jo O’Neill.  Working together they listen to your concerns, assess your child’s educational needs and act as your support and guide when interacting with your school district.  You may not know whether you need a lawyer; you may have just one question that needs to be answered, or you may want someone to represent your family every step of the way. Wherever you are in your journey, we are here for you. Working together as partners, we can make great strides towards accomplishing your goals for your child at school and beyond.

 

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Meet the Team: Mary Jo O’Neill – Special Education Advocate

As a Certified Intervention Specialist Mary Jo works together with the attorneys to listen to your concerns, assess your child’s educational and personal needs, and act as your support and guide when interacting with the school district. Working to make a seamless experience for you and advocating on your child’s behalf.

🎓 Cleveland State University Graduate
📜 Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
📚 Lifetime learner
🍝 Enjoys cooking
👦🏻👧🏻 Proud mom

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Special Education Advocate Mary Jo O’Neill wrote the forward for Expect a Miracle

Special Education Advocate Mary Jo O’Neill wrote the forward for the 2nd edition of Expect a Miracle, Understanding and Living with Autism by David & Sandy Petrovic. Co-authored from separate viewpoints of an autistic young adult and his mother, it chronicles challenges and victories of each development stage.  Mary Jo states, “Professors should have all new teachers read this book, parents will benefit, typical students will learn from it and students struggling with autism will grow because of the author’s guidance”.

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