International Adoption Info

Newsletter #95 for Internationally Adopting Parents
September 25, 2008
PAL Center Inc.



Workshops with
Dr. Gindis' participation
in October 2008

FRUA NJ/Central-South Conference:
Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Cape Cod Adoption Network Conference:
Friday, October 17, 2008

From Our Database


Robert K. Crabtree, Esq.

In my practice as a special education attorney for parents and students for more than twenty-five years, I have seen certain issues and frustrations expressed repeatedly. I have written a series of short articles to discuss some of the mistakes people make in the special education process that often cause or exacerbate those issues and frustrations. The articles focus in turn on mistakes commonly made by parents; school districts; independent evaluators; and, finally, advocates for parents and students.

Part 1 - Mistakes Made by Parents

Part 2 - Mistakes Made by School Districts

Part 3 - Mistakes Made by Independent Evaluators

Part 4 – Mistakes Made by Advocates

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New Articles 
Educational Planning Conference
    B. Gindis, Ph.D.
    Wrong Assumptions about Educational Planning Conference

    I would like to share with you my experience as an Educational Planning Conference
    (EPC) "insider" who was in the position to observe "from both sides of the table"
    hundreds of nervous and frustrated parents during their EPCs. Being a school psychologist, I conducted countless EPCs as a school representative; as a private practitioner, I participated in countless EPCs, representing parents.

    Here are the most damaging wrong assumptions adoptive parents may have entering
    the EPC room.

    1. "They" (school personnel) know everything and "we" (the parents) do
    not know much.
    It is just not true! Having knowledge and skills in their respective
    areas of expertise (teaching, counseling, remediation, etc.) school professionals may
    fail to apply their knowledge and skills to your child. You may not know their
    professional jargon and the specifics of their trade, but you have a special interest in
    and unique understanding of your child. You know what works and what doesn't with
    your child. You know how she reacted to certain remediation in the past. Trust your instincts: argue generalizations of the professionals with you empirical, "hands-on" understanding of your child's needs. The majority of internationally adopting parents
    are well-educated, middle class, mature (early 40s and older) individuals. You
    participate in support groups and parents' organizations. Most of you have undergone some kind of training before adoption and are well aware of educational needs of your children and of their rights for appropriate educational services. In many instances,
    school districts just cannot match adoptive parents in their preparedness. Although schools have resources and skilled staff, little training, if any, was provided to school personnel to better understand this category of students and promote various
    techniques and methodologies of physical, emotional, and cognitive remediation for internationally adopted children.

    2. We will have to accept the results of school assessment. Not true! Especially when no services have been recommended. If the school assessment was not
    adequate, you may have the right for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).
    The law (IDEA, 34 CFR 300.352) says that the parents of a child with disability have
    the right to obtain an independent evaluation at public expense if they disagree with
    the results of the school's assessment. When the parent requests an independent evaluation the school has one of 3 choices to agree for:

    a) An IEE by a professional of their choice;
    b) An IEE by a professional of your choice;
    c) A due process hearing that will finalize the decision about the IEE.

    In any case, remember to request the school district's guidelines on examiners' qualifications. The examiner chosen by you should have the same qualifications at a minimum and, hopefully, more expertise with internationally adopted children and their respective cultural background and language. Also keep in mind that this examiner
    cannot be an employee of this school district.

    3. We are "taking their time". No way: your school personnel is there to serve
    you. Therefore, take your time and ask your questions. Do not allow a person who
    runs the EPC to tell you that you have only 40 minutes and another family is waiting.
    You must have enough time to discuss your child's educational needs and means of addressing them. It is crucial for you to present your position properly.

    Teachers and remedial specialists usually use terms and acronyms, specific to their
    field of special education. You may become confused when these terms are used
    during your EPC meeting. It is important to ask what the terms or acronyms mean. An
    informed decision cannot be made if the parents do not fully understand what is being discussed. Parents are entitled to have their child's assessment information explained
    to them before this meeting. In many states there is a provision that parents must
    receive a copy of the report and meet with the professional(s) who completed the evaluation before the meeting takes place. This enables the parents to think through
    the information before making decisions for their child.

    4. It does not matter if I communicate with the school personnel orally or
    in writing.
    Wrong! All communications are to be documented. This includes ongoing correspondence, requests for assessments, EPC meetings, related services, etc.
    Written requests are important because they create a timeline that the school district
    must follow in response to your request. They will also create a paper trail. When you write a letter to the school, be sure to send it by a certified mail. When you have a discussion by phone with a school official, write a letter that briefly outlines what you
    had been talking about. Documenting your conversations helps prevent miscommunication. Have the EPC committee record the written request as part of the
    IEP minutes. If the committee denies your request for a placement and/or services,
    then they must follow the procedural safeguards in IDEA and provide a written notice
    of why they are denying the parents' request. This method makes it difficult for an EPC committee to tell parents "no" without thinking through the options. If the request is
    not written down, the school district is not obligated to provide the service or even the response. Remember, you are not asking for favors from the school personnel, rather
    this procedure is a part of the educational law called IDEA; it is known as Prior Notice
    of the Procedural Safeguards (34 CFR 300.503). By making all requests in writing and
    by requiring the EPC team to provide a Prior Notice, the parents make the team
    accountable for its decisions and take the emotional aspects of any negotiations out
    of the way.

    5. I cannot do much about the specific goals spelled in my child's Individual Educational Plan (IEP). Wrong! IEP goals formulated during the EPC meeting are
    one of the most important parts of your child's remediation. The goals state what
    your child is expected to accomplish by the end of the year or a semester. Without
    measurable goals and objectives, it is difficult to determine if your child has had a successful school year. Most goals should be based on the assessment data. If you receive an assessment report that does not give recommendations for measurable
    goals and objectives, the assessment is not complete, to say the least. IEP goals are developed by an EPC team, and you are a part of this team, so you have a say in
    that too. Most parents feel overwhelmed by a special education process.
    Do not be discouraged in your pursuit to obtain support and services your child, be
    your child's advocate.


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