Finding an advocate?

Question:I live in N. Texas. I have problems with the local school district. My kids were not getting the services they need and I home schooled for remainder of year last year. They met the IEP goals I created. I cannot afford private school so they must go back to public school this year so I can work.

Where can I find an advocate or attorney to attend the new IEP meeting with me? Issues include improper evaluation when first arriving into district that did not include prior medical or educational records. State says they were in the wrong but I refuse to comply with the unreasonable demands the school is making to put my kids into the right special ed program. One child is autistic and is high functioning but comes home crying everyday because he is in a class of 20+ regular kids. The other child has a different diagnosis but was not completing the work in a kindergarten of 20+.

no space, will continue in a add details post.

Answers:
I think your best bet is to first attend the IEP. If you feel that you are not being heard and your children's needs are not being met, ask for a mediator. The school system's team MUST legally find an unbiased, professional, mediator (the mediator CANNOT be employed by the school system) and legally the school system MUST pay for the mediator. The mediator will help both sides find a reasonable aggreement. Some schools give a lot more when the "M word" (mediator) is even mentioned.

Also bring anyone who has an impact in your children's life to the IEP. Pediatrician, daycare provider, grandparent, etc. Create your own army. As you know, you are your child's best advocate.

Best wishes and keep the faith!
All states have free advocates who help parents. Call your state dept of education and ask info for 'the states federally funded parent advocacy agency'.
You should read the first two posts. They are good.

I am a SPED teacher who is on the other side of the table in the ARD. Yes, ask for a mediator! In the meanwhile, go to the first ARD prepared. Make a list of concerns. Write them down. Give them to the ARD committee and then watch out. The ARD committee is not really your advocate. They are trying to move everyone out to "mainstream" classes with minimal SPED intervention.

The ARD will most likely talk circles around you. In the end you will leave feeling like you were helped, until you sit down and realize the talked you in circles.

I often talk to parents on the side and make suggestions. Unfortunately with the new NCLB laws, Sped is getting the raw end of the deal. The main thing is to keep fighting for you child. The system in too many districts is not "for the child".

It is not right, nor good for your child to come home crying daily. Something must change.

ps. there used to be an advocacy group in Arlington called Advocacy INC. Try the phone book or the web and see if they are still around.
Find a lawyer who works in family law, and see if she will take on your case pro bono. I am not familiar with TX, but attorneys take on those type of cases all the time where I am from.

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