Getting What Your Child Needs from Schools
It was very difficult to decide in which
section to put some of these resources, or what order to put them in. For
that reason, I advise browsing the whole page - you never know where you will
find just what you need!
Please note: Being listed here is not per se an endorsement of
any particular site or email list. I have included annotations for those sites
or lists that I am familiar with and strongly recommend.
The article Understanding the Special Education Process: An Overview
for Parents at LD Online is a good starting point:
My article Sharing Useful Articles with School
Personnel suggests ways to effectively get information to your child's
teachers and other school staff.
By law, your child is entitled to FAPE (a Free Appropriate Public Education).
For some excellent articles on what this means, go to
Sometimes there's no way to salvage a situation. Deciding to leave can
be painful and difficult.
Do I Stay or Do I Go
examines this painful dilemma.
Protection and Advocacy, Inc.'s Special Education Page has a selection of
online publications about special education rights and responsibilities:
Protection and Advocacy
Federally mandated system in each state and territory which provides protection
of the rights of persons with disabilities through legally based advocacy. The
Protection and Advocacy for Persons with developmental Disabilities (PADD)
Program was created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of
Rights (DD) Act of 1975. P&As are required by the Act to pursue legal,
administrative and other appropriate remedies to protect and advocates for the
rights of individuals with developmental disabilities under all applicable
federal and state laws. Unfortunately, most P&As are underfunded and overworked,
but they are still worth contacting:
Family & Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE)
The Partnership is a new project which aims to inform and educate families and
advocates about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 and
OSEP Monitoring Reports: This page contains the most recent Office of Special
Education Programs (OSEP) monitoring reports from over 35 states and
territories. All future reports will be posted on this page.
The Federation for Children with Special Needs has a useful website at
You can find a list of Parent Training and Information Centers by state at
The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities has
a list of resources by state (state agencies, disability organizations, parent
organizations, etc.) at
On a Tourette’s site, but is widely applicable; includes a bulletin board.
Has some excellent articles.
Before you say or write anything to the school, avoid booby-traps and read
the article EMERGENCY! CRISIS! HELP! THE PARENT/ADVOCATE: FIRST STEPS
It's important for our kids to learn how to advocate for themselves. In
their excellent book,
When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and
Emotional Needs, Jim Delisle & Judy Galbraith provide
Ten Tips for Talking to Teachers
(reprinted here by permission).
A User’s Guide to the 1999 IDEA Regulations
The website for the National Association for Protection and Advocacy Systems
- lists P&A providers by state.
COPAA - The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates is an independent,
nonprofit, tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates and parents
established to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance for parents
of children with disabilities. They also have an email list.
The Amicus for Children site has links to Special Education law information
and a Service Request form where you can ask questions about IEPs, Special Ed,
Look for their article "7 Steps to getting FAPE (Free & Appropriate
For Canadians: The Uniquely ADHD site has a section at
that connects to Canadian special ed advocacy resources and has a section for
IEPs (Individualized Education
Wrightslaw has an excellent section on IEPs at
If you are having a dispute about your child's special education program,
it's a good idea to tape IEP meetings. Read "How and Why to Tape IEP Meetings"
by Vermont advocate Brice Palmer:
Parents often say that when they go to IEP meetings, the school staff will
not answer their questions or requests. If you are preparing for an IEP meeting,
read "Playing 20 Questions with the Devil (or How to Handle Disagreements During
IEP Meetings)" by Parent Attorney Sonja Kerr:
Advocate Judy Bonnell developed a simple form that you can use to track the
requests you make at your child's IEP meeting. This form will help eliminate
worries that someone will drop the ball, sidestep a request, or forget. The IEP
team knows what issues have been resolved and what issues are still on the
table. Read "How to Use a Parent IEP Attachment" by Judy Bonnell
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP) publishes
an IEP guide that you can find online at
http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP/Products/IEP_Guide/ or can order for
Editorial Publications Center
US Dept. of Education
PO Box 1398
Jessup, MD 20794-1398
301 470-1244 (fax)
Special Education Rights and Responsibilities
Chapter 4: Information on IEP Process
From a 12-Chapter Manual - Available by Chapter and in Manual Form, 7th Edition
Written by: Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE) and Protection &
Advocacy, Inc. (PAI), Copyright © 1992 by CASE and PAI, Revised January 1998
Writing Letters to Schools
“Tactics & Strategy: The ‘Letter to the Stranger’” by Janie Bowman and Pete
“The Art of Writing Letters” by Pam Darr Wright and Pete Wright
“A Parent's Guide To Special Education And Related Services: Communicating
Through Letterwriting” by Susan Ferguson and Suzanne Ripley.
Legalities of Gifted/Special
Needs - IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
The EDLAW site provides a listing of attorneys who represent parents of
children with disabilities at
Wrightslaw is a fantastic site for help dealing with the legalities and
practicalities of "working the system" for our kids. Pete Wright is an attorney
who is dyslexic and has ADHD. This is a MUST READ before you talk to the school,
write a letter, or do anything else that may have legal implications.
In particular, start with the article EMERGENCY! CRISIS! HELP! THE
PARENT/ADVOCATE: FIRST STEPS at
The Wrightslaw team also has a companion site to their "From Emotions to
Advocacy" book at http://www.fetaweb.com
and one on the No Child Left Behind Act at
The "Lillie/Felton Letter" is a widely cited policy letter from the Office of
Special Education Programs (OSEP) clearly stating that our kids don't have to
fail in order to qualify for special education services.
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
An independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates and
parents established to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance for
parents of children with disabilities.
EDLAW - a comprehensive site of information on special ed law
Reed Martin is a special ed attorney with a special ed law and advocacy
SpecialEdLaw.net is a multidisciplinary internet resource for parents of
special needs children, as well as attorneys, special education administrators,
teachers, psychologists, and others needing information on Special Education
OSEP (Office for Special Education Programs) is part of the US Department of
Tapping Officials' Secrets is a website with links to open records and open
meetings laws in every state plus the District of Columbia:
If you want to look up court decision, you can use FindLaw at
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law by
Peter W. D. Wright & Pamela Darr
Wright. Designed to answer questions about special
education law, includes the full text of the Individuals with Disabilities Act,
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, FERPA, implementing regulations, and
special education decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court. Commentary by Pete
Wright, a special ed lawyer who is gifted/special needs and has argued a special
ed case in front of the US Supreme Court.
Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy by
Peter W. D. Wright & Pamela Darr
Wright. This book is a practical "survival guide" on
how to advocate for children with disabilities. Topics include: obstacles,
common reasons for parent-school conflict, crisis management, and advocacy
skills, including how to organize your child's file, write SMART IEP goals and
objectives, create paper trails, write persuasive letters, and maintain control
in school meetings. Includes worksheets, forms, sample letters; appendices;
bibliography; index. There is a companion website at
Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind by
Peter W. D. Wright, Pamela Darr
Wright, and Suzanne Whitney Heath. As usual, an excellent book from
the Wrightslaw team. There is a companion website at
Better IEPs: How to Develop Legally Correct and Educationally Useful Programs
by Barbara D. Bateman and Mary Anne Linden. Another
guide, focusing on the individual needs of the child, with examples of IEPs.
The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child by
Attorney Lawrence Siegal & Marcia Stewart (editor). A detailed guide
to the nitty-gritty details of navigating the IEP process.
Disability Resource Library is a comprehensive electronic reference of
disability laws, guidelines, reports and more.
Free Appropriate Public Education: The Law and Children With Disabilities by
H. Rutherford Turnbull III & Ann Turnbull.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher,
William Ury & Bruce Patton
Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation by
William Ury are two very useful books that teach
constructive ways of negotiating with schools, our kids, and every other life
How To Compromise With Your School District Without Compromising Your Child: A Field Guide For Getting Effective Services For Children With Special Needs
by Gary Mayerson is a good intro to getting services for your child.
How Well Does Your IEP Measure Up? by Diane Twachtman-Cullen and Jennifer
Twachtman-Reilly. Starfish Specialty
Press. A step-by-step guide to writing IEPs that really deliver. Contains sample
goals & objectives and easy-to-use, "how-to" templates for translating them into
educational action. Special Education attorney Pete Wright, of
Wrightslaw, says "Finally, an IEP book
that focuses on the 'science' of writing clear, understandable and measurable
objectives. The authors brilliantly expose the absurdity of public school IEPs
and their bizarre, fuzzy wuzzy language!" Although aimed at parents of children
with autism-spectrum disorders, it is applicable to all special needs children.
Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
is a DVD from the folks at Wrightslaw
that takes you through a special education due process hearing, from initial
preparations to testimony by the final witness.
Tongue Fu! by Sam Horn. Ms. Horn provides an invaluable
guide to verbal self-defense filled with practical advice.
Tuesday March 29, 2005