Understanding Special Education: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

1. Read all papers from the school before signing anything.

2. If you need more time to read and understand the papers, take the papers home. You do not have to sign any document at a meeting with the school.

3. You may bring a friend, family member, or advocate with you to an IEP team meeting. Another person can offer support and take notes at the meeting.

4. You should keep copies of any letters sent to the school and any papers received from the school.

5. At the IEP team meeting, you should find out who the contact person is for your child’s IEP. Write down that person’s name, phone number, and email address. You should also write down the name of the head of special education for the school district.

6. You should not accept excuses from the school. If the IEP team agrees that your child needs a support or service, the school must provide it.

7. You should read all of the information from the school about how your child is doing in special education. If you do not get any information, you can ask for it in writing. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress, you can write a letter asking for an IEP team meeting.

8. You should request an IEP team meeting if your child is having behavior problems. You and the IEP team can add supports in the IEP to help the child.

DISCLAIMER: This information, from the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, provides a general idea of Pennsylvania and federal special education laws and should not be considered legal advice. For publications, videos, and other information on how to get help with education law questions, please visit www.elc-pa.org.

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