Recently I went through training and was certified as an IEP (Individualized Education Program) Mentor for families in Missouri. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to because it’s a way to help kids and their families make sure the child gets the proper education they need.
If you’ve never heard of an IEP that means you probably don’t have kids in special education anywhere in the United States. Even in a small district, the number of kids with an IEP can be in the hundreds. The average school district in America has about 13% of their students on an IEP program.
The mentor program allows those trained and certified to go into meetings with families and the school and be an advocate for the family. We’re not legally trained and we aren’t there in the capacity of lawyer, but we’re there to support the family, ask questions and do what the parents need to help get the IEP written the way the child needs it.
Some school districts are known to be great at helping kids get the services they desperately need such as occupational therapy, reading therapy, assistive technology to aid in the classroom and many. Many more options.
Other districts are notorious for doing as little as possible and not always because they don’t care, they’re simply underfunded and think that’s a valid excuse for not helping a child.
FYI…it’s not a valid reason.
Disability or not, all children are guaranteed a right to a proper education under federal law. When it comes to kids with special needs, the law becomes murky as to what is a proper education for a particular student as opposed to his peers.
If you feel like your student isn’t being represented with a proper voice when it comes time for the IEP meeting, check with your local state because chances are they have something similar to the Missouri Parents Act, or MPACT, to assist you with your child’s IEP.
Every child in this country deserves a proper education and whether or not that happens for kids with special needs is up to the family, the school and mentors such as those with MPACT.
Why should we care? Because not only are these your kids, but this is the future of America that we’re dealing with here and if they’re not properly educated, we all lose in the long run.
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