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Independent Special Education Advocates and IEP Facilitation: Challenges and Opportunities. Presenters. Candace Cortiella Director, The Advocacy Institute Jamie Ruppmann ASSIST Consulting Diane Willcutts DLK Consulting. AGENDA. Roles and Responsibilities Factors in parent-school conflict

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Independent special education advocates and iep facilitation challenges and opportunities

Independent Special Education Advocates and IEP Facilitation: Challenges and Opportunities


Presenters
Presenters

Candace CortiellaDirector, The Advocacy Institute

Jamie RuppmannASSIST Consulting

Diane Willcutts

DLK Consulting


Agenda
AGENDA

  • Roles and Responsibilities

  • Factors in parent-school conflict

  • Policy that Promotes Facilitation

  • Tales from the Road

  • Q+As


Roles and responsibilities
Roles and Responsibilities

  • Advocates vs. Attorneys

    • Aren’t licensed to practice law

    • Possess understanding of special education laws

    • Experience working with families

  • Advocates as Facilitators

    • Not affiliated with school district

    • Not affiliated with family

    • No stake in outcome


Factors in parent school conflict
Factors in parent-school conflict

  • Trust

  • Parent perception vs. school perception of child (deficit perspective)

  • Imbalance of knowledge

  • Constraint of financial resources


Factors in parent school conflict1
Factors in parent-school conflict

  • Service delivery

  • Valuation

  • Reciprocal power

  • Communication; number of meeting participants


What policies support the practice of facilitated ieps

What Policies Support the Practice of Facilitated IEPs?

“Managing” Parent-Professional Relationships


Individuals with disabilities education act
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • Prior to 1997 – policy was that parents or school folks could bring anyone of their choice to the IEP meeting.

  • In fact, early parent leaders urged parents “never go alone”

  • Parent Training and Resource Centers


Idea 1997 amendments
IDEA 1997 Amendments

  • 1997 Purposes - #1 “Strengthen the role of parents”

  • Modified IEP attendance - “knowledge or special expertise regarding the child”

  • BUT the determination that the individual possesses “knowledge or special expertise” shall be made by the parent or public agency


Idea 2004
IDEA 2004

Congressional Report Language specifies that one of the ways amendments improve education is by “Encouraging early informal resolution of problems”


Independent special education advocates and iep facilitation challenges and opportunities

“The committee is discouraged to hear that many parents, teachers, and school officials find that some current IDEA provisions encourage an adversarial, rather than a cooperative, atmosphere, in regards to special education. In response, the committee has made changes to promote better cooperation and understanding between parents and schools, leading to better educational programs and related services for children with disabilities”.


Resolving differences and disputes
Resolving Differences and Disputes teachers, and school officials find that some current IDEA provisions encourage an adversarial, rather than a cooperative, atmosphere, in regards to special education.

  • Requesting an IEE

  • IEP meeting

  • Informal strategies including facilitation

    which is not mentioned in IDEA

  • Mediation

  • Resolution


Helen featherstone a difference in the family

“Professionals play a big part in the lives of disabled people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

“For their part, professional often feel less powerful than they appear to clients”

“A child’s problem and his parents’ pain touch doctors and teachers deeply. They are vulnerable, too”.

Helen Featherstone: “A Difference in the Family”


Tales from the road
Tales From the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”


Tales from the road1
Tales From the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

Why not use school staff to facilitate IEP meetings?

  • Parent perception of bias

  • Continues power imbalance between family and school team members


Tales from the road2
Tales From the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

  • Perception of bias

    • “I can’t trust the school.”

    • 95% of families reported that they do not trust the school to make decisions based on their child’s needs.

    • 77% of families perceive that school staff are not able to openly state their opinions in meetings

    • 72% of families reported that their concerns are not considered


Tales from the road3
Tales From the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

Imbalance of power

  • “I don’t know how to make myself heard.”

  • 100% of families perceive that they are not treated as equal members of the IEP team

  • 100% of families perceive that they are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the special education process

  • 100% of families report that IEP meetings are overwhelming


Why use special education advocates to facilitate iep meetings
Why use special education advocates people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.” to facilitate IEP meetings?

  • Parents perceive that advocates are neutral.

  • Education advocates possess foundational skills necessary for effective facilitation.

  • Parents perceive that advocates are neutral


Tales from the road4
Tales from the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

Education advocates possess foundational skills necessary for effective facilitation.

  • Knowledge of special education law and area resources

  • Skilled in keeping meetings productive.

  • Provides parent training and coaching to enable parent to participate as an equal member of the team.

  • Acts as resource to family and school team.

  • Assists with clarifying important areas of agreement and disagreement.


Tales from the road5
Tales from the Road people and their families. It often looks to parents as though outsiders hold the child’s future in their hands.”

Effective facilitation

  • Does not coerce participants to reach artificial agreement

  • Treats conflict as “normal”

  • Keeps the group focused on the student

  • Enables families to be equal participants in IEP meetings

  • Improves outcomes for student.


Independent special education advocates and iep facilitation challenges and opportunities

“Parents and teachers still have a lot to learn about helping one another and must now become more realistic about what can reasonably be expected from their cooperation” (W. B. Cutler III, 2000)