It goes without saying that parents of children with special needs must be intimately involved – indeed, the central participants – in all discussions relevant to their loved ones’ educational programs and opportunities. It would be nonsensical if they weren’t.
And yet they often aren’t.
That is the informed conclusion of Brenna Aversano, a special education teacher and devoted advocate for ethical and legally mandated outcomes in her work sphere. Aversano is a seasoned educator in the special ed realm, having close familiarity with how programs are carried out in states all across the country.
Aversano recently penned an article on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) long mandated under the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. A central provision of IDEA stresses that parents of a child with an IEP be recurrently informed of their legal rights via receipt of a “procedural safeguard notice.”
That document’s purpose is to meaningfully advise parents on key matters and to empower them in the decision-making process. Instead, says Aversano, the notice far more often bewilders readers, being “unreadable, impractical and intimidating.”
Here’s why: Reportedly, the notices written by officials in almost every state have a reading level pegged at the college level or even higher. Aversano stresses that the resulting buried-in-complexities language “alienates [most] families from participating in their children’s education.”
We can – we must – do better, Aversano says. There are clear blueprints available for improving readability.
And, of course, proven special education attorneys can play a key role in helping diverse and valued clients fully understand their special ed rights and take fullest advantage of all opportunities.
An experienced special education lawyer will welcome personal contacts and the opportunity to provide relevant information and tailored legal advocacy.