Special education can be a difficult field to navigate. Parents need to be aware of their rights and the school district's responsibilities to their child. They also need to be aware of the different kinds of treatments and services that are available. With these bases of knowledge, parents can be active parts of their child's IEP Team and can effectively advocate on behalf of their child.
There are many state and federal resources available to help parents of students with disabilities. Below is a description of some important resources that can be important to parents as they navigate the special education field:
- Pattan: The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It has useful information and website links to all matters related to special education from laws and regulations to potential placements, specific disputes and dispute resolution options.
- Annotated Summary of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance: the summary of academic achievement and functional performance (formerly known as the summary of performance) is required to be provided to students when they graduate from high school. It contains information about the student's academic achievement and functional performance and provides important information about helping to make a student successful in his or her postsecondary goals. This version of the form is annotated to help parents and school district staff understand how the form should be filled out correctly.
- Permission to Evaluate Consent Form: this annotated version of the permission to evaluate consent form (PTE) provides parents with a detailed explanation of how they can expect a school district to complete this form.
- Annotated Special Education Forms: this is the link to the annotated version of all of the special education forms that are necessary under state and federal law.
- Complaint Form: this link provides you with a copy of the complaint form that should be used if you wish to file a complaint with the Department of Education. It asks you to provide information about the alleged violation and the facts supporting your allegations.
- Mediation Request Form: this link will provide you with the form that you need if you wish to file a mediation.
- Annotated IEP: this annotated version of the IEP explains what should be included in each part of the IEP document. It provides guidance to school districts and parents on the proper way to develop a good IEP.
- Annotated Early Intervention IFSP and IEP : this link will provide you with an annotated guide to Individual Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for students in early intervention.
- Pennsylvania State Education Law : this link will take you to Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania Code. Chapter 4 is about statewide academic standards and assessments.
- Pennsylvania Assessment Anchors: Assessment Anchors has been developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to better align assessment, curriculum and instruction throughout the state.
- The Gaskin Case: This link provides information about the Gaskin Settlement Agreement. The Gaskin Settlement Agreement addresses the inclusion of students with disabilities in the mainstream classrooms and creates an advisory group in the Department of Education to oversee inclusive educational practices.
- Behavior: Behavior can be a challenging issue to deal with for IEP Teams, parents and school officials. This link describes the school district's responsibility for dealing with a special education student who exhibits behavior issues and provides additional resources for support.
- Federal Regulations: this link will provide with the full copy of the federal regulations that were written to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The link provides the regulations and relevant commentary from the United States Department of Education.
- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): OSEP is part of the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). OSEP's mission is to improve the educational results of children from birth to age 21. It implements grants, provides leadership and parent training and information centers to further its mission.
- Office for Civil Rights (OCR): OCR is part of the US Department of Education. Its mission is to promote equal access to education and to enforce civil rights. This office provides students, including students with disabilities, who feel they are being discriminated against the opportunity to file a complaint which will be investigated and, if appropriate, rectified.
- Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network: This OSEP run network provides information and assistance to states, schools, educators and families. Most information is available without charge.
Being a parent of a student with disabilities often requires a good amount of organization and knowledge so that the parent can effectively advocate for his or her child. The state and federal resources described above can provide parents with a lot of information so that they can help their child achieve in the right educational program.