You may have to fight for the educational services that your child with a disability needs. Be prepared for battle!
Step 1: Attend all IEP meetings.
The school district or the IEP team will give your child whatever they find appropriate. The services the school district offers is sometimes inappropriate for your child, so attend the meetings.
You are a member of the IEP team and your voice is valuable. Who knows your child better than you? The school district will do whatever they think you will tolerate.
Decisions may have been made about the IEP services that your child is going to receive before you ever stepped foot into the IEP room. Speak up!
Step 2: Have everything in writing. If you do not agree with something speak up and request that it be noted in the IEP.
Sending letters to the district to ask questions could be invaluable if you ever need to challenge them in another forum (fax it, or email it). Also, negotiating with them could be beneficial.
Step 3: Move through the ranks. The IEP team has unwritten rules about the services they can offer, but there are people in power that can give your child what they need. Ask to speak to the principal first then the compliance department or a supervisor.
Step 4: Always be professional; the school district loves when parents lead with emotion because they can use an unprofessional letter to show the unreasonableness of the parent. (Wrightslaw)
Step 5: Get some support. Joining organizations like the Council of Parents Advocates and Attorneys or COPAA is priceless. They have experienced people that may be able to help you get your child what is appropriate. (Maybe this should be step 1). Join COPAA.
Step 6: There will be members of the IEP team who are quietly on your side. Ask casual questions outside of the meeting to try to determine where they truly stand. This will help you in the long run.
Step 7: Make a list of what is appropriate in the IEP, and what else your child needs to get an appropriate education. At all costs do not mention I want what is “best” for my child. The school district is only required to provide what is appropriate.
Step 8: Go to battle and make it happen.