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Effective Parents Recognize that Change Takes Time

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Effective Parents Recognize that Change Takes Time

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Effective parents recognize that change  takes time, and they implement a plan to make necessary changes

Do you recall the old saying, “Patience is a virtue”?  While the ability to wait calmly or to accept delay without getting angry may indeed be a commendable quality in some aspects of your life, it has no place when it comes to your child’s education.  Your child has one year to devote to each grade level, and a limited time to perfect his reading, math or social skills.  When you sense that your child is falling behind, it is difficult to stand by, patiently waiting for things to improve when there is no plan in place.

There is another adage that is more appropriately applied when you realize that your child’s needs are not being met.  That is, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  We all recognize that school systems are often overwhelmed in their efforts to serve the needs of many children.  Getting school administrators to focus on your child’s situation requires your persistent involvement to separate him from the pack and to obtain the individual attention he deserves.

Sometimes even your persistence is not enough to positively impact your child’s program.  If you reach a stalemate with the District, your only alternative is to remove the school from the “driver’s seat.”  Let’s face it, the school will make all of the decisions until you level the playing field.  The most effective way to do this is to file for a due process hearing.  Once you file, the ultimate decisions about your child’s program will be made by a neutral hearing officer who will decide the issues based upon your child’s individual needs and the law, not on budgetary concerns.

All too often, parents wait to seek additional services or a specialized placement for a child who cannot read at grade level until the child is entering middle school.  These well-meaning parents have waited patiently during the elementary school years, accepting that the school “knows best” and not challenging the District’s proposals.  This patience is not rewarded.  Obviously, the sooner a child receives appropriate services, the better chance she will have to overcome her disability.  It is essential that you become actively involved in your child’s program as soon as you sense that something is wrong, and that you seek the assistance of an advocate or attorney if you need further assistance.

My practical advice concerning out-of-district placements:  Parents often come to see me in May or June with the idea that they would like an out-of-district placement for their child to begin the following September.  Please bear in mind that it will be several months before you can expect a decision through a due process hearing.  Schools will usually seek delays in hearings during the summer because of staff vacations.  In my experience, it is unreasonable to expect a decision before September in any case which is not filed by mid-April.  This can be very frustrating because the private schools usually will not hold your spot pending the decision.  Therefore, planning is critical, and I would encourage parents who intend to seek an out-of-district placement to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

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