The presence of an attorney at IEP meetings is “strongly discouraged by the United States Office of Special Education Programs because it “could potentially create an adversarial atmosphere at the meeting.” An attorney’s presence would have the potential for creating an adversarial atmosphere that would not be in the best interest of the child resulting in difficulty developing the child’s IEP…” (U.S. Department of Education, 1998). While attorneys have knowledge of the law, they often do not have backgrounds in education or hands-on experience working with children with special needs.
As an Advocate, Keri knows and understands state and federal laws and is able to bring professional, hands-on experience to the table. This provides the ability to keep meetings non-adversarial and child centered.
- Represents the best interest of the students in the educational process
- Has a working-knowledge of State and Federal laws pertaining to children with special needs and can inform parent/guardians of their rights.
- Suggests appropriate services, programs, and accommodations/modifications to meet the student’s individual; needs
- Helps interpret the meaning of assessments and reports to parents and explain their significance in meeting the child’s needs
- Helps parents put requests in writing
- Prepares parents for the IEP/504 meeting. This could include gathering support materials, proposing goals and objectives and developing strategies.
- Reviews all special education documents, including files, assessments, report cards, observation reports, and all other reports prior to IEP/504 meeting.
- Accompanies parents to IEP, 504 and any other relevant school meetings to provide advice and assistance.
- Reviews IEP documents before you sign them.
- Drafts letters, responses, complaints and written requests to school and district officials.
- Empowers and educates families to strengthen their own advocacy skills.
- An advocate can advise you on the strength of your case at any time you think a due process complaint should be filed and make referrals.