Sunday, May 10, 2009
Who started the rumor that parents of students with special needs had some right to determine the education provided? Parents of typical students have certain rights, via PTA pressure, morals monitoring groups, sometimes school community councils, when the subject of what and how those children are served. Almost all of the facets of the typical childs formal education are determined and set by the school. This is the same for parents of students with disabilities, although I have known few who used these opportunities. Federal law, and state law, both provide rights for individuals with disabilities related to access to a free, appropriate public education. Parents, as the legal guardians of the child, may argue toward assuring access to needs based services, and they have a right to participate in the decision making process. The applicable laws require the school to consider a parent's concerns when preparing an individual education program. My experience has been to always be educating parents related to what we, the student and I, are doing and why. This practice frequently allowed me to easily explain why some miracle cure might not be appropriate, and also resulted in parents being better informed when evaluating among the miriad of miracle cures hawked. I worked for an orthopedic surgeon as a recreational therapist operating his hand rehabilitation center. He used to to say that appearing as an expert witness, and making lots of money doing it, was easy because he always did what was right and always told the truth as he knew it. I certainly would only want to appear before a hearing officer if I knew I was representing what was best for the student, and could defend, and risk embarrassment arguing for something undefendable just because I represent what the parent wants.