Special Education Advocate New Jersey
Helping Your Child Reach His or Her Potential


Stuff to think about, Stuff to know.

First Days of School

For many, school is about to start, for some it has stated already.  Even though we go through this every September, it is still a time of worry and stress for all parents, and especially so for parents of special needs children.

One of the biggest worries is of course, is how will the new school year go?  How will the new teachers deal with your child and implement his or her IEP?  The case manager and child study team have assured you that everything is in place, but as the parent you are still concerned – and you have every right to be!

One tip I offer each of the families I work with is this – ask the case manager to send you a note attesting that every one of your child’s teachers has read and signed off on the IEP.  Make sure you ask that the case manager specifically tells you, in writing, that every teacher, and aide as needed, has a copy of the goals and objectives and modifications as written in the IEP.

Now, that is only half the work.  Once you get the correspondence from the case manager, you should then ask the teachers.  Call or email the teacher to introduce yourself.  Ask if you can meet or have a phone conference to informally discuss your child.  During that discussion, you should then ask the teacher if he or she had an opportunity to read the IEP.  Ask if the teacher has a copy of the modifications as well as goals and objectives.

If the case manager has done his or her job well, as most do, then the teachers will know about your child’s IEP.  If the teacher doesn’t know the details of your child’s special needs, then you know that the case manager isn’t being upfront in providing you the important information you have every right to know.

Don’t be aggressive or rude toward the teachers, nor the case manager, as I believe doing so can make for a difficult year.  If it seems that the teachers haven’t read the IEP, then it is a good time to ask for a formal IEP meeting and ask to have all your child’s teachers attend.  That way you will be assured that each teacher has reviewed the IEP.

It may be that the child study team doesn’t want to have a meeting with all the teachers since only a few of the teachers usually attend the IEP meeting.  You should then request a copy of a signature sheet showing each teacher’s signature attesting to having read the IEP.

I would like to believe that districts won’t give you a hard time about this.  But if the district does not cooperate, it may be time to bring the director of special education or superintendent into the discussion, and if need be, file a complaint with the NJDOE.

I hope this helps – Doug Dresher