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Know where you stand
If your child has been enrolled in special education for his reading problems, it is important to remember that both you and your child have very specific rights and that those rights are guaranteed by law. If you know what your rights are, you will be better able to make sure that your child gets the best education available to him.
Your basic rights
Your rights as the parent of a child in special education fall into several broad categories. You have the right to:
- Know what’s happening. Under law, the school must tell you when your child is being tested or retested and when his program at school is being changed. The school must ask you whether you agree with any changes. The school must allow you to bring other people along when you’re discussing your child, and the school must help you with language translations if English is not your first language or if you are hearing-impaired.
- Help make decisions. You have the right to decide if your child should be tested. You can also ask that he be tested by someone outside of the school district. During your child’s IEP meeting, you have the right to say what kind of help you think your child needs and even which school you think will be most helpful.
- Disagree. If you do not agree with the decisions made by your child’s teacher, you can say so. You can ask that your child be retested. You can tell the school you do not want your child in the program that’s been suggested. You can also ask for a new IEP meeting to discuss the problem, and the school must schedule one within 15 days of receiving your request in writing.
- See your child’s records. You have the right to look at any records the school keeps about your child. The school must also explain them to you if they don’t make sense to you. You also have the right to add your own thoughts to the record if you think some of the information there isn’t right.
The rights listed here are only a brief outline. There are many more specific rights guaranteed to you as the parent of a child in special education. If at any time you need more information about your rights, the school is required by law to provide the information you need.
PBS, “Family Rights,” http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/learning-disabilities/special-education-and-ieps/educational-rights-of-children-with-disabilities/family-rights/
Center for Parent Information and Resources, “Parental Rights Under IDEA,” http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/parental-rights/