Success Story

SAM05/17/2019 / 9:11 am

Hey Linda! I just wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done.
I highly recommend Linda at Special Needs NJ. I contacted Linda because I was concerned about my daughter and felt that the school was not meeting her needs. When I first asked the school to evaluate my daughter, they said that her grades were too good and that there was no need evaluate her. I disagreed. I called several different advocates before I called Linda. Immediately, I felt comfortable speaking to Linda and explaining what my concerns were. She explained how the process works and what her role would be. When I met with Linda, I gave her all the medical reports I had, her then current 504, and samples of my daughter’s work. Linda took the time to look through everything and she went to work immediately formulating a plan. She explained to me the law and what my parental rights are. Linda wrote correspondence to the school on my behalf. All I had to do was read it over, insert certain pieces of information and send the correspondence to the school. I requested another meeting with the school and asked again for my daughter to be evaluated. Linda attended the meeting with. She provided me with an agenda of topics to cover, so I wouldn’t forget what I needed to talk about and she spoke for me when I became too emotional. The school agreed to evaluate my daughter. After the evaluations were complete, the school moved my daughter from a 504 to an IEP due to the discrepancies they found. I took her for further evaluations and the doctor diagnosed my daughter as high functioning ASD.
I never would have gotten this far had it not been for Linda. She was there for me when I needed her. She provided me with support and fought for my child as if it was her own child. Linda is extremely knowledgeable of all the laws and rights, and how a proper IEP should be written up. I learned a lot from her. Choosing Linda as my daughter’s advocate and my IEP coach was the best decision I’ve ever made.

How to Write a Parental Concerns Letter for your IEP

Have you written a “Parental Concerns” letter?

No? Why Not???

This is one of the most underutilized sections in the IEP!

It is your right to submit your concerns as the parent of a child with an IEP, and have it placed into that IEP under the heading of “Parental Concerns,” or sometimes it’s listed as “Parent Input.” And yet so many times I hear parents say they didn’t know they had that right.

I’ll admit, it is very hard to find this portion of the IEP, as it is often the smallest section possible and is easily overlooked. OR, there may be a few well chosen snippets of your concerns that were picked out of the meeting by the case manager.

What does the IDEA say about including the parents input into the IEP? Well it’s not a lot, but it IS there; listed under Other Methods To Ensure Parent Participation (300.322(c)) “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written request if they so choose.”

Why is the Parents Concerns letter so important?

First, understand that you NEED to do this EVERYtime you go through the IEP process, or review.

Remember that the IEP is based on the “NEEDS” of the child. It is “NEEDS” driven. NOT diagnosis driven. So your child gets evaluated to determine the areas of need, then goals are drawn up based upon those needs. The strategies and services that they then receive are based upon the goals, which are based upon the needs. All of the child’s areas of need are listed in the “Present Levels” section, also known as the PLOP or PLAAP, adn this drives the IEP. Now, do you know what else is in that section of the IEP? The PARENTAL CONCERNS! (Note: this may be slightly different and vary from state to state).

Therefore, do you understand…. this “parental Concerns” section ALSO helps drive the goals & services in the IEP. It is your right to submit one, and it MUST be included!

How long should my “Parental Concerns” letter be?

The short answer is…. As long as it needs to be. Now, some districts may tell you that it can not be any longer than 200 words. That is NOT TRUE! They may have a computer program for IEP formulation that only allows for 200 words, but that does not mean you have to limit your concerns. It simply means they need to find another way to include your concerns IN THEIR ENTIRETY into the IEP as you request. Of course that doesn’t mean you should write a 12 page dissertation about your child either. Be clear and concise, leave out emotional statements or accusatory language targeting any staff or service.

Here’s what you should include in your “Parental Concerns.”

Everything that “needs” to be there. Remember, this will drive goals and services. What are your main concerns about your child? Be concise. Be focused. Be child centered.

  • areas of need that the school identified and you agree with
  • areas of need that have not been identified that you wish to include
  • strategies that work for your child
  • strategies that feel do not work
  • behavior concerns
  • any medical or food allergies you are concerned or feel the staff needs to know
  • social and emotional struggles your child may have. ie. anxiety or fidgety do to ADHD etc…

When do you send a “Parental Concerns” letter?

I recommend that you send it in when you are responding to the letter of notification for your next meeting. “Yes, I can attend the meeting on Thursday, date, time. Here is my list of parental concerns that I wish to discuss with the team and be included in their entirety within the IEP.”

You can follow that up with, “I will bring a hard copy to the meeting,” or “I will email a copy for input into the IEP.”

For further assistance with Special Education and the IEP process’

Contact IEP Coach/Advocate Linda by calling (973) 534-3402

Visit us on Facebook: Special Needs IEP Coach/Advocate

IEP Coach/Advocacy

“Cc: 3 people on every email.”

This was one of the best pieces of advice Linda gave us and we hadn’t even signed a contract with her yet!

My son has been in the public school system since he was three years old. After being asked to leave multiple daycares, one owner suggested we contact our school district’s CST and have him tested. He was tested and was deemed eligible for their special needs pre-school program. He started with half-days and transitioned to full days.

As parents, we thought we were doing the best for him. We had our IEP meeting and everything was great. Boy do I wish I knew what was ahead of me!!!

Kindergarten started off okay, but then he was put on home instruction because he was a “public health” risk. I had hired a different advocate then, but she didn’t do a thing for me. I even contacted a special needs attorney who offered advice and we were able to get him back into school.

First grade, again started off okay, but then it went downhill. At one of the many meetings with the school, we raised the question of out of district placement. Oh no, we were told. Multiple times that year, while being summoned to the school to pick up our son due to his current behaviors, arriving and being shuttled into an impromptu meeting, we would say, perhaps out of district placement is the answer and we were told No, we have not done everything we can for him yet.

In the spring, I contacted Linda. Best thing we could have ever done. At our first meeting, she gave me so much information and I thought to myself, I had no idea that I was the person in control of my son’s IEP meetings. Linda took the time to review all of my son’s records and ask what we wanted for our son. Together, we devised a plan to fight for our child and the education he deserved. Linda is a bulldog. She knows how to ask the tough questions that parents don’t want to ask or know to ask. She is upfront and always responsive.

Months and months of meetings and emails and unfulfilled requests, we wound up in court. We had no choice. Days before my son was supposed to start his new school, I was still getting “bullied” by the school district and administrators.

My son has been in his new school since the end of November and he is doing outstanding. He was named “Student of the Month” this past month and received his first report card – all A’s and B’s. He has not been sent home once! When his teacher calls me for a weekly status update, she is nothing but positive. We could not be happier and more proud of our child. We credit a lot of people, but without Linda, our son would not be in the proper educational atmosphere, he would not be as successful as he is and I would not have my sanity.

Get yourselves educated. Know your child’s rights and your rights as parents. Understand that they are not in control of your child’s educational future, you are. Hire an advocate (IEP Coach/advocate Linda’s email specialneedsnj@hotmail.com and website www.specialneedsnewjersey.com) who understands the special educational system. School administrators take advantage of the that fact parents do not know all the ins and outs of how the system works and for many, including myself, there is so much more than just that little PRISE book they give you at the meeting.

Stand your ground. Ask questions. Ask for documentation and communication in written form. Control the conversation and the meetings. And most importantly, every communication should include at least people!!!!!

Nicole K.

Nicole is one of the parents I have served through IEP Coaching and Advocacy. You will be hearing more of her story in future posts.

If your child is struggling in Special Education, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of Special Education, have questions about what the PRISE booklet is all about, or have a newly diagnosed or classified child in your family…. Contact me at (973) 534-3402 or send an email to specialneedsnj@hotmail.com, or go to my website and fill in the contact/request form www.specialneedsnewjersey.com. NOTE: Don’t let the NJ part put you off, I serve ALL states! The laws of the IDEA are national! Some practices, policies, and timelines vary state to state, but YOUR RIGHTS and the rights of YOUR CHILD are the same across ALL borders! (NJ is simply where I am located and it was the best available domain when I started.)

I hope to hear from you soon to learn how I can help you help your child.

Coach Linda