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Effective Parents Cooperate and Share Information with their Child’s Teachers and Special Education Team

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Effective Parents Cooperate and Share Information with their Child’s Teachers and Special Education Team

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Share information with your child’s teachers and team

Parents are often frustrated by a school’s failure to conduct thorough evaluations using qualified professionals. Discouraged by the school’s failure to evaluate, many parents hire their own experts at significant personal expense to complete the testing and to provide recommendations for further accommodations and services. Most privately retained experts will write comprehensive reports detailing their findings and recommendations.

Medical providers who treat children with special needs also create detailed records describing the child’s disability and needs. Particularly in cases involving emotional disabilities, these records may contain very sensitive and confidential information about the child and the child’s family.

I am often asked by parents whether they must disclose the reports of privately retained experts or sensitive medical records to the school. With few exceptions, my answer is, yes. Generally, all records must be disclosed if the parent expects the school to provide services in compliance with the expert’s recommendations. Further, if the parent intends to use the information contained in the reports as evidence at a due process hearing, the documents must always be disclosed.

It is important to bear in mind that the District has the responsibility to provide the child with a free appropriate public education. The District cannot be expected to satisfy this obligation if it is not provided with all information necessary to make important decisions about the child. Furthermore, if the parent intends to go to a hearing, the District will have the opportunity to participate in “discovery,” which is a process that allows the District to subpoena virtually all information relating to the child. If a parent requests a hearing before providing all information to the District, it is likely that the entire process will be stopped to allow the team to reconvene to consider the new information.

Many hearings are lost by parents when the District proves that the parent’s lack of cooperation interfered with its ability to assess the child’s needs. Your ability to demonstrate that you have fully cooperated with the District and that you have disclosed all relevant information for the team’s consideration is a critical component in a successful due process hearing.

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