You've discovered your child has a learning or behavior problem, such as Dyslexia or ADHD. In order to learn, he needs a greater amount of one-on-one instruction from his teachers and less frustrating interaction with his peers. That means a smaller class size than the norm, with a higher teacher-to-student ratio, and probably a higher concentration of problem children than the norm. In the United State, that means Special Education.
The first step in the Special Education protocols is the Individualized Educational Program (I.E.P.) Meeting. The meeting is held every six months (California law) to discuss and set down a child's learning and behavior goals for the following 6-12 months of school curriculum as long as the child remains under the umbrella of the Special Education Program.
The IEP is meant to be attended by as many of the key personnel as possible. Who are those persons? Well, you, the custodial parent, are obviously one of those people. The child should also attend, if he is able and willing, though this is not a firm requirement. His primary school teacher should attend or, if unavailable, a secondary teacher who has worked with your child personally and/or the principal or vice-principal of the school he attends, providing that individual has spent time with your child and is somewhat familiar with him and his needs. A school counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist should also be present, specifically whomever has been working with him on a regular basis during the school week. You may also have an outside counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist attend, though most medical personnel do not have the time to do so. An alternative to attendance is a written analysis you can present at the meeting.
In addition to these parties, your SELPA representative should also attend. What is SELPA? Your SELPA rep is a Liaison Person between the School District and you, the family. They are, ostensibly, on your side, but do not forget who writes their paychecks.
All these people are expected to provide reports of recent interaction with your child and their recommendations for his educational placement. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to coordinate this meeting, and to make the final determination for his placement, based on the information and recommendations given, and your own common sense and understanding of your child and his needs.
Keep in mind, always, that YOU are the boss. As long as your child is under legal age, you, as his parent and guardian, are allowed and expected, by law, to make all decisions regarding his welfare. Though his education is free, to you, and required by law, within the parameters of public education you have a certain degree of leeway as to where you may place him for an optimum learning environment. You WILL meet with resistance on occasion and you cannot help but encounter the occasional bureaucrat who sees the money and not the child. Never forget for one moment that YOU are the boss and never hesitate to make your stance firmly understood to any difficult or dissenting officials.
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This website is for information purposes only and is not intended to be, or to serve as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.