Parents of returning students who are receiving special education services are expected to make appointments with teachers and other educational personnel at this time of year. The IEP or Individualized Education Program, may cause anxiety for parents as it concerns the type of processes, classes, and expectations for their child for not only the upcoming school year, but for the lifetime of the student while enrolled in public education.
In the news recently, are concerns about bringing any type of gun toy to school. For the regular student, it is self-explanatory; for the special education student, punishments would have to be tailored to the student. Did he or she understand not to bring that type of toy to school? Does he or she understand that it could hurt others? These types of behaviors are addressed already in the child’s IEP. If the child does break a rule, the parent is called, and perhaps another impromptu IEP meeting would occur. Then what to do in all subsequent behaviors, would be addressed.
For the parents of special education students, you and your child have rights when it comes to behavior in the classroom. These rights, called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, are addressed in a paper format, and should be offered to you at each IEP meeting, as well as being addressed within the individual IEP. You should be given a chance to make changes regarding your child’s IEP. And if you don’t agree, you are not required to sign until you come to an agreement. In some rare cases, when a parent doesn’t agree, then the child may be placed in a regular classroom and receive no special education services. If a problem occurs, your child would be treated like a regular student. So you want always to come to an agreement, even if it goes into the next school year.
Remember the IEP is addressed to your student. There may be rules that work for another child, that may not work for yours. The same goes for classes. This year, this classroom setting may work, next year it may not. When a teacher isn’t a good fit for your student, you can call any time to address this issue with the Principal or other educational personnel. Most of the time it’s predetermined from the previous year and your child’s new teacher should give you a chance to ask questions of their particular program and expectations.
Your student does not have to placed in a self-contained class, meaning a class where the entire class is made and composed of special education students with a matching curriculum. If your student tests well, but has behaviors that need special attention, he may receive help with the regular or inclusive classroom. Also, diplomas, and school programs are catered to the needs of all students. Some can take classes, but not test well; some can do regular classwork and still more have problems only with behaviors. They can receive aid from resource teachers or teacher assistants in a regular classroom; be placed in special educations classes for a partial school day and regular classes during the rest of the day, or use assistive technology to aid them in a regular classroom. There are different programs and levels with students receiving partial to full special education services, and/or students needing to be in a self-contained or inclusive classroom. The operative phrase is “least restrictive”, meaning your child is placed in the environment where he is not restricted from doing well.
For more information, visit www.doe.virginia.gov.