Legal Eagles: ‘Don’t Wait for IEP Meeting to Strengthen Relationships with Parents’

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LRP Publications wrote in its electronic newsletter Special Ed e-News that nearly half of states aren’t hitting benchmarks for school-facilitated parent involvement in improving services and results for students with disabilities, which serves as a reminder to educators and transportation staff alike of the importance of early intervention.

Indicator 8 of IDEA Part B and Part C is the federal requirement that states gather data on the percentage of parents with a child receiving special education services who also reported that schools facilitated parental involvement as a means of improving service and educational results. LRP reported that the Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers recently analyzed this data and found there was a 2.5 percent increase in parental involvement in the special education process during the 2008-2009 school year. But still, 21 states fell short of their goals, and two states missed preschool targets but met their school-age targets.

While that means 37 states and territories met requirements, Nancy Chartier, director of pupil services for Rice Lake (Wis.) Area School District, said that districts looking to enhance parent involvement must look for opportunities to build relationships with and educate parents throughout the school year, not just at the annual IEP meeting.

For instance, she suggested that schools host seminars on topics that parents select. Last year, she said Rice Lake parents wanted information on how to advocate for students with mental illnesses. The district invited psychologists to speak on the subject and answer parents’ questions. And certainly transportation could be another forum topic.