As this school year begins, many parents are attending IEP meetings on behalf of their children. As parents we strive to help our children learn and achieve to the best of their abilities. An Individualized Education Plan, or an IEP, is designed to do specifically that. Unfortunately educators and parents do not always see eye to eye on what the student needs to achieve their best.

According to a recent study, about 70% of parents are satisfied the their IEP process. Which means that approximately 30% of parents are unhappy with IEP process or their child’s IEP. The dissatisfied parents have a choice…advocate for their child’ needs or let it slide. I was amazed at just how many parents, according to the statistics on IDEAdata.org, decided to not fight for what they felt their child needed to access the curriculum. The data shows that about 2 million parents were dissatisfied with their child’s IEP for the 2009-2010 but only1% of the parents filed any type of dispute resolution to attempt to get what they thought their child needed.

You might wonder, as I did, why a parent would sign and agree to an IEP that they feel is not in the best interest of their child. I think there are several reasons for this. One reason that may inhibit parents from taking any action under their IDEA rights is lack of knowledge of their rights and the dispute/mediation process if they don’t agree with the school. Parents also feel overwhelmed by the process itself and are afraid of the retaliation toward them and their child if they file for mediation or due process. As long as you handle yourself in a professional and respectable manner throughout the IEP process and dispute resolution process, should have a good working relationship even when there are things you disagree upon.

It is important to know that if you are not satisfied with your child’s IEP, you have a right to dispute an IEP, and have a responsibility to your child to see that he/she has the services, accommodations and modifications to access the curriculum. You are your child’s best advocate. If you don’t speak up,(or hire someone to do it for you) no one will.

If you have questions about being an advocate for your child with their IEP or you want more information on how the IEP process works please click here.