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Advocates are there to help you Say What You Want!

Why are advocates there?

How should you respond to the statement, we only have 45 minutes. As an advocate, no, covering a 43-page IEP in less than 45 minutes is not ok, so you should not be saying to an LEA "that's ok." That's the entire reason we are there - to say "NO! That's not ok!"

National Special Education Advocacy Institute Response:

As advocates we are not there to say no. However, we are there to facilitate the appropriate acquisition and receipt of special education services, with fidelity, so that a scholar can make meaningful progress commensurate with their ability, in ALL areas of their unique needs. The IEP framework addresses academic, social, behavioral, and functional goals as the means for achieving “outcomes of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.” Special education enables every scholar to gain a high level of independence and reach their full potential as contributing citizen in our communities.

If we start with a demand we get to be bogged down in a fruitless argument and lines being drawn in the sand. By engaging and "playing nice in the sandbox" (A BCEAs motto) we can keep the discussion going through the questions we have as we go through the IEP and those places where we need clarification, etc. until you are satisfied that all points have been addressed. (not necessarily agreed upon but at least addressed). If they try to close the meeting before all points are addressed then you ask for another meeting because it is clear that we have not finished the IEP meeting. Don’t let anyone ruffle your feathers. You have procedural safeguards to deal with insane requests like this. You are better than lowering yourself to that level!

Frequently, the meeting proceeds and the IEP is completed even if it does take 90 minutes or 3 hours. If the meeting is held over to another day- no problem! Your flexibility to not demand a complete resolution immediately can work in your favor, on this one. If no accommodation is made for another meeting that is noted in the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) or Prior Written Notice (PWN) along with the salient points never addressed in the meeting and those points that were refused. You stay focused on SCHOLAR's needs, not administrative convenience.

The use of an education advocate should create a cooperative environment where questions are raised, answers are researched, plans are implemented, education is provided, responsibility is taken, assessment and credit taken, praise given, anxiety is relieved, and where cooperation is the norm with a scholar-focused attitude.

THE ROLE OF THE EDUCATION ADVOCATE

The role of the professional Special Education Advocate is to: increase communication between school district (SD) personnel and the parent develop a School District relationship where the parent’s concerns are heard and acted on facilitate the IEP process so that the parent feels like and participated as an equal part of the educational team diffuse sadness, anger and frustration when parents mourn over the loss of ability to fix their scholar’s issues. • the loss of potential as the parent sees their scholar’s inability to achieve to

the same degree and in the same manner as other neuro typical peers • seeing the active and passive rejection of their scholars by peers • the use of low expectations by educational professionals • their scholar’s loss of self-esteem or • not knowing the answer.

facilitate the acquisition of FAPE facilitate identification of educationally based needs through the school district or through appropriate clinical referrals prevent the blaming of the scholar or the parent for the scholar's failures (Lazy, lacks discipline, not trying hard enough, will eventually just get "it", doesn’t pay attention, is a brat, is spoiled) develop a team approach where parents and teachers are supported with information training and research based programming available to address the scholar’s disability and how it effects their ability to be educated development of an individualized educational plan, with an awareness of the continuum of services and placements available, so as to promote FAPE and improve scholar's functional outcomes development of positive behavioral interventions that appropriately deal with disability associated disruptive behaviors and behaviors that interfere with a scholar accessing their education assist in managing the time spent resolving differences through effective communication protect parent rights by preserving them throughout the IEP process, so they can exercise them later provide clients with appropriate attorney and clinical evaluation referrals.

Special Education Advocates advocate for and give an effective voice to a scholar’s interests, and need for happiness, education, inclusion and development of functional living skills. Educational Advocacy is not pleading or advocating another’s case in a legal forum – that is what lawyers do. Advocacy by Educational Consultants and Educational Advocates occurs in a different forum than lawyers. Educational Advocates promote the development of an appropriate educational and community support service plan that identifies and addresses the scholar’s educational needs so as to create community and educational inclusion, functional skills, and adequate measurable progress in the educational and community environments.

They give their clients informed consent, provide education and ask them to participate actively in the development of their individualized educational plans and promote a scholar-focused environment. They participate in the communication and development of the patient’s treatment plan and its implementation. Roles are clearly defined and collaboration creates better outcomes. It is a win win. The result is better understanding and compliance with individualized plans and better communication is fostered.

Use of educational advocates creates a cooperative environment where questions are raised, answers are researched, plans are implemented, education provided, responsibility is taken, assessment and credit taken, praise given, anxiety relieved and where cooperation is the norm with a child-focused attitude.

EVALUATIONS IN ALL AREAS OF CONCERN


When I worked within a school district that is considered a decent one. It was very disheartening and mind blowing how much is either intentionally or unintentionally (due to ignorance) ignored when it comes to evaluations in ALL AREAS of concern. The National Special Education Advocacy Institute indicated that it certainly does boggle anyone's mind. Advocates can be critical catalysts in moving a school district toward a much more effective system of supports for a scholar, if they are scholar focused. Thank you for allowing me to give a voice to those who cannot yet advocate for themselves.

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