Let’s talk about what I call “uncensored advocacy” which means, being a professional advocate doesn’t limit what I can say or can’t say about the school district, and I don’t believe that I must be politically correct to still be considered as a respected advocate.
Most advocates censor how they talk about the school district and simply give information about the law and parent rights. This article will give you the straight-up facts about the state of the broken special education system as it stands today.
For me, being an advocate means revealing the truth about special education and disclosing the tactics district staff use to confuse and misinform parents. Most importantly, a good advocate must be willing to provide the tools and advocacy strategies that parents must utilize if they want to give their child a fighting chance to be educated.
Over the past 25 years, I have seen school districts across the nation deny children what they need to learn and violate Child Find, a federal law.
School districts are obligated to actively seek out students who may qualify for special education, however, just the opposite is true. No matter what state in which you reside, parents are required to fight with their district just to have their child evaluated and then face the disappointing results, which typically denies eligibility for their child to qualify for special education supports and services.
If the student does happen to qualify, parents are still under the gun to learn to advocate in order to have an appropriate IEP developed that will meet their child’s educational, functional, and behavioral needs. Otherwise, their child will be awarded an IEP that is insufficient and at risk of being misplaced in an inappropriate special education class instead of having supports and services brought to their child in the least restrictive environment.
If parents don’t happen to be quick learners and put everything in writing, the district will indefinitely disregard your concerns while your child loses educational benefit year after year.
When a parent starts becoming educated about their child’s IEP and begins to implement their parent rights, the district gives them lip service, scripted double-talk, and misinformation, and if that doesn’t work, they pull out the big guns of intimidation that may include threats of litigation and even CPS, hoping that they’ll stop advocating and remain compliant to the district’s agenda.
In Southern California, it’s well known that districts employ private detectives who gather “dirt” on families, used as intimidation, strong-arm tactics, and information for litigation.
Parents must wake-up and understand that the school district is a bureaucratic institution, run by gatekeepers who protect the funding and our children are at the bottom of the system’s hierarchy of priorities.
Many special education teachers lack training and have no idea how to meet the needs of children on an IEP. School districts don’t support their sped teachers and expect them to meet the needs of a class full of special needs students on their own. Students sit in a special education class and learn very little while the teachers focus on keeping the student’s behavior under control.
Because the system is set up in a way that requires labels in order to receive goals, supports and services, once a student is labeled as disabled, they are marginalized by belief systems that discriminate, segregate, and even bully and abuse.
For children in special education, school district staff incorporate low expectations for learning, lacking faith for students to experience any kind of success in life after high school. Our society still believes that neurodiverse individuals are less than intelligent, leaving more than 7 million students grossly underserved.
The system is selling out innocent children for a living with no accountability from our states or federal government. When an ethical educator or service provider tries to stand up for a child, they are fired or punished for their efforts to do what’s right.
State complaint investigators and administrative law judges rule in favor of the school district, giving the LEAs license to violate state and federal law whenever they choose with no accountability.
These kids will end up living with their parents for the rest of their lives or become a ward of the state to live out abuse in a group home while placing more burden on our tax dollars. Others will become victims of the “school-to-prison” pipeline. Our society, local, state, and federal government doesn’t seem to think that this is a problem, nor do they care.
Where is the equity, diversity, and inclusion for our kids?
Yes, parents have resources and can find an overwhelming amount of information about IDEA and advocacy, but it doesn’t give you the full story because it tells you what the law SAYS, not HOW to fight the local school district and WIN.
Most advocates and attorneys don’t teach parents how to interpret and navigate state and federal law to specifically apply it to their individual case while training parents how to create a legal paper trail to use as evidence to support the parent’s position.
This is what I did for my own daughter 15 years ago and it’s what I do for my clients now. I have been successful in utilizing the IEP process without filing for mediation or due process and still win what kids need to be educated.
It’s not easy, but it is possible with an advocate who doesn’t pull punches or is more concerned about keeping their relationship with school district administrators than they are about winning what their client needs to learn in school.
What does winning look like? The proper placement, goals, services, and accommodations and holding your team accountable to progress on goals.
How do you win? By learning to create a legal paper trail through Parent Agendas, Parent Statements, Parent emails, Parent Letters in response to IEP meetings and PWNs and taking the lead during an IEP meeting to ensure the issues are properly documented in the IEP.
If you’d like to learn more about my parent training, I invite you to email me your child’s IEP and last Psychoeducational Assessment. You can schedule a 60-minute consultation by going to this link.
Cheering you on always!
If you haven’t joined our Private Special Education Parent Empowerment Facebook Group yet, you should check it out here.
Here’s what parents are saying about the group:
“Thank you for sharing your knowledge Valerie! This world needs more people willing to speak the truth.” ~ Elizabeth
“Please keep blowing the whistle, Valerie! So many children are being deprived of an education because of all the corruption and lies being told to parents. We pay our taxes like everyone else, which can be interpreted as our children have the same rights as any other child.” ~ Maria
Valerie Aprahamian is a special education advocate, IEP strategist, and speaker. She speaks on behalf of parents to protect the rights of neurodiverse children to receive the supports they need in public school.