The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally passed in 1975, gives a legal right to all children to receive a “free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment required to meet their needs.” As part of this law, parents and families are allowed to be involved in the creation of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for their student.
Kristin Stanberry, writing for Understood, points out:
You may not be an expert about special education, but you are an expert about your child…As a parent, you have the right to participate in all of your child’s IEP meetings. In fact, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – the federal law governing special education – lists parents first on the list of required members of a student’s IEP team.
10 Reasons Why Parent Involvement in an IEP is Essential
1. Research has proven that parent involvement in education is a predictor of a child’s academic success;
2. Good communication between parent and school will alert you to whether any changes such as new goals need to be added to the IEP;
3. Respect between school and parents will help negotiations run smoother;
4. Keeping track of your child’s ability to complete classwork and homework will alert you to whether your child is accessing the curriculum;
5. Making sure your child is in the proper placement will help your child access the curriculum;
6. Addressing academic discrepancies early will allow your child to catch up in the future;
7. Working on goals in both the School and Home environment consistently will help your child achieve better success;
8. Keeping track of your child’s services will let you know whether the school is out of compliance;
9. Parents and teachers share the same goal of preparing your child for independent living, postsecondary education and employment; and
10. Your child’s future is at stake.
The Harvard Family Research Project has assembled a helpful list of resources for caregivers, policymakers, and educators. This annotated bibliography “describes resources that can help parents and educators facilitate a comfortable and supportive partnership in the interest of successful outcomes for children with disabilities” and includes research reports, examples of best practices, and journal articles.