Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How does the advocacy process begin?  What can we expect following contact?

Following your initial call, email, or “contact” request; here are the steps we follow:

  1. We will contact you within 24 hours
  2. Our initial “in-take” conversation or email will identify:
    1. Where do you live?  What district are you supported by?
    2. What concerns cause you to contact us?
    3. Tell us about the child you are concerned about.
    4. When would you be available for a consultation contact?
    5. Do you have documents, information, or assessments to share online?
  3. A consultation session may be scheduled to determine: (Nominal fee be applied to Package A or B)
    1. Creating a Strategic Plan moving forward
    2. Determining how our services may be able to support you:
      1. Direct Advocacy (Package B)
      2. Consultation (Package A)
      3. Hourly Support
  4. Afterwards, an in-depth review of the documentation and related assessments will follow
  5. An extensive Strategic Planning Session will be scheduled through Conference Call with Client
  6. Introduction to the School; usually attached to the Information Release form, will be scheduled
  7. Meeting with the School and involved staff members as soon as possible
 
Question: Why use an advocate?
Due to the nature of the education business, “caring people with good intentions”, working with limited funding and resource scarcity causes the process to feel adversarial.  For this reason alone, parents need to know what is within their rights, within the context of the ever-changing procedures and guidelines, appropriate accommodations, and research-based instructional  strategies that work.  This is complex business: challenging for most parents by juggling the information required within the IEP and 504 processes while dealing with school personalities, emotional issues associated with the family matters, and negotiating a legally binding contract.  This is not much different than purchasing a home or participating in a legal proceeding; you want to have a professional representing your side of the table.
Clearly, we do not provide legal advice for this is best handled through the guidance of an attorney. However, most likely your case needs the support of an experienced advocate; one who knows the IEP and 504 process first hand and most importantly, brings a level of expertise to your child’s intervention plan by having “an insider” working for you!  I can assure you, you will feel much more confident by doing so.

 

Question: How does an IEP and a 504 Plan differ?

Simply put, an IEP (individualized education plan) is a by-product of a special education evaluation process determining specially designed instruction (SDI) for your child. Through a specific learning disability or within the context of health-physical related impairments, your child would receive special education assistance above and beyond the general education program.  Whereas, the Section 504 process is designed for students who also have an impairment significantly impacting learning, though accommodations fall within the general education arena and do not require “SDI”.  Based upon my experience, 504 Plans are a greater challenge for parents due to the general nature of the process; some teachers and staff are right on with accommocations and support while others are reluctant and resistant to changes in instruction or class management.  Negotiating well written 504 Plans are very difficult for most parents for one doesn’t often know exactly what to ask for or what is a reasonable accommodation. 

FYI: Both IEP and 504 Plan consideration address the same questions within the evaluation process:

1. Does the student have a diagnosis by a licensed clinician or a disability assessment by the school? If YES, move to question 2

2. Does the diagnosis or disability present an impairment within one of life’s experiences such as school? If YES, move to question 3

3. Would accommodations through a 504 Plan or / and Specially Designed Instruction through an IEP be most appropriate?

Working with an advocate through the process described above provides experience, knowledge, and expertise to navigate the questions guiding both 504 and IEP meetings.

Question: When do I use an Attorney or Mediator instead of an Advocate?

This is the $64,000 question … (or more like a $20,000 retainer)

 Here’s how I see it from my experience: Lawyers are outstanding resources when you need assistance with formal Due Process procedures (following a failed “Resolution Meeting”) or within the context of serious legal implications addressing special education services.  When an attorney enters the room, you are clearly moving into adversarial territory.  Whereas, I am an educator first and foremost with extensive instruction, curriculum, and special needs experience so I can engage in conversation with all school personnel as a peer.  In addition, my years of administrative experience as a Principal provides insight to the inner workings of a school: I am an insider working on your behalf.  And most importantly, I am seeking win-win agreements and resolution to facilitate improved communciation between parents and staff.  Attorneys are best in legal matters requiring short-term solutions to intensive conflict; education advocacy is for the long-haul and supports collaboration with a purpose driven perspective.  

 

Mediation is based upon neutrality. Advocacy differs from mediation for I do not take a neutral position within the IEP or 504 process.  As your Advocate, I am representing your perspective for I truly understand that my clients are paying for my expertise & insights and expect me to bring innovation to the table. 
 
Question: By sending our kids to a “private school”, can we access Special Education Services through our local public school district?
Quite often, “YES”.  Through the CHILD FIND process available through all school districts, the identification process of kids with special needs is not limited to public school students alone.  Give your district a call and specifically ask for “CHILD FIND”.  If you need assistance with this process, give us a call as well!
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