IEP : Special Education Advocates
(My happy school girl at Back to School Night this year)
This year was the first time in awhile that I haven’t hired an advocate to come along to an IEP meeting. It ended up being the right decision, because it was one of the most agreeable meetings I’ve participated in for Arizona. In fact, I signed her IEP at the meeting, which has never happened before.
In the past, however, IEP meetings haven’t been as smooth or easy. Luckily, I was introduced to a law firm early on that focuses specifically on special education law, Newman Aaronson Vanaman Law. In particular, paralegal Bobbie Westil, is an IEP expert and powerhouse to bring along to any IEP meeting. I have used her many times, with great success.
Additionally, advocates are available, free of charge, through your local regional center. Note : advocates are not always attorneys or paralegals.
Having an advocate with you at an IEP meeting has significant benefits, including :
- Someone who is extremely familiar with the special education process.
- Someone who can negotiate on your behalf, with the school district. It’s often easier for advocates, who are emotionally removed from the intricate details, to have effective and productive negotiations with the district.
- Someone who knows local school’s resources and can see solutions and alternate options you might not.
What have your experiences been with advocates for your child / children? If not, in what ways COULD you use an advocate for help with your child / children?