!00 Nights Of Advocacy – Nights 1 – 8

100 Nights of Advocacy – 1-8____________________________________
100 nights of IPRC talk – night 1

Over the Summer Autism Ontario was kind enough to help me create several resources to help parents understand the IPRC process.
Over the next 100 nights I am going to post the webinar piece by piece with added supporting material

This will be the most in depth examination of the IPRC possible.
Watch for it as it rolls out every day.

Please this information. I’d like this to reach as many parents as possible.

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Autism Ontario is proud to present our Online Webinar Series – The IPRC Process

The webinars, powerpoints, resources notes and linked information support each other and should be used interchangeably.

Class is in Session! Featuring Ed Mahony

Join me for 3 intensive webcasts focusing on you getting the most out of the IPRC process. These interactive webinars will cover next steps after your child’s team has met to discuss educational outcomes.
Note: These webinars will remain available on demand whenever you desire to access them.

Click here for more information!

Date: Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 from 12pm – 1pmRegister here

Date: Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 from 12pm – 1pmRegister here

Date: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 from 12pm – 1pmRegister here

Active Link to Above

Resources

Negotiating the Maze: Strategies for Effective … – Autism Ontario

This document is a portal to many useful resources for parents regarding advocacy. I have used this material to create this resource.

Shared Solutions – http://www.edu.gov.on.ca.

A wonderful publication from the Ministry of Education exploring ways to collaborate.

Special Education: A Guide for Educators 2001 – The Northwest …

Though some information has changed since 2001, the IPRC section is very useful.

As well, I will provide links to other resources within the resources notes.

Webinar 1. – slides 1 to 5
Webinar 1 – Resource Notes
Leading up to your child’s IPRC

Understanding the rules: The case of Emily
I am going to, hopefully, lead you to an understanding of the rules and regulations that how we advocate for support with children with education related to disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

The purpose of this section will be to show you how the system can work. In a sense, you will learn about “tools” that you can use. What remains to be explored later on is exactly how you should use a given tool and, if so, when and where to use it.
An interesting reality of this material is that often many educators do not actually understand the regulations, including teachers, principals or even supervisory staff. Often, our advocacy efforts can help to connect educators with the legislation. This process can be both advantageous and difficult for parents. 
Asserting rights that are newly discovered by educators allows parents to be heard. However, change is difficult for everyone and parents need to be mindful of asserting their rights in a respectful and positive manner.
100 Nights of IPRC Talk – Night 2
It’s important at the beginning of this project the parents and educators understand the value of understanding and following educational regulations. I often hear the following statements in some form or another from parents and sometimes educators… we don’t have to be adversarial… Can’t we just get together and figure out how to help the child?
My answer to this is that expecting that all parties follow the rules is how we work together. It is by default combative.
Must Read… several times…

Negotiating the Maze – Must Reading This document connects our discussion about IPRCs with broader Special Education Advocacy information.

Being on equal at the table – Shared Solutions – A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students with Special Education Needs.

Shared Solutions is a wonderful resource and the root of my efforts explaining the IPRC in this material. The resource spends time exploring possible sources of conflict between Parents and Schools. The resource captures the situation well; however, my experiences advocating for parents give me a slightly different take on the root source of almost all the conflict I observe…

How parents can feel… 
“During the first few years after my son’s diagnosis thinking about dealing with my son’s school filed me with dread. I felt so frustrated and powerless…”

“No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t seem to get my child’s teacher to understand who my daughter was…”

“I have a complicated job and think of myself as “with it” but when I talk to my kid’s school I am deluged with terms they assume I get. Often, I don’t.”
This is the reality of many parents of children with academic and learning needs. The common thread in my experience supporting parents is that do not feel that they are listened to…

Equals at the table.
Imagine you are a parent going to some sort of meeting planned at the school to talk about your child. As you drive, maybe you and your partner are quiet but inside, your mind is racing. Will they listen to me? Maybe if I’m funny enough, or clear speaking enough, or forceful enough, they will listen to me. The knot in your throat tightens and you feel sick.

Many parents perceive a fundamental power imbalance between the school and home. Because they do not understand the regulations that govern special education, they feel powerless. This lack of power can create anxiety and anger.
Shared Solutions points to a remedy to this imbalance.
“Conflicts may also arise if parents and/or educators are not fully informed about

ministry regulations and policy documents with respect to regular and special

education. As well, it is important for all parties – educators, other professionals,

students, and parents – to be aware of their roles and responsibilities in

the planning, implementation, and monitoring of special education programs

and services.” Shared Solutions, p.14
The center piece of Special Education in Ontario Schools is the Individual Placement and Review Process. When the special education regimen in Ontario was created, the legislature made the IPRC the pivotal process where the parental common law rights of procedural fairnesswere found.
Therefore, our initial work here will be to understand the IPRC thoroughly. Doing that, however, we will look at many concepts that are intertwined and flow through the IPRC.
As we progress through a series of scenarios I will identify what I believe are pivotal, important aspects of the process as well as areas and concepts that could be, although mandated in legislation and cited in tribunal decisions, unfamiliar to educators.
100 Nights of Advocacy – Night 3

In my work as a Resource Teacher, I have found that one way to help some students understand more complicated math equations is to start with simple numbers that have self evident solutions that students can solve by common sense like 2×2=4. Once the learner understands the dynamic of the equation, we can use more difficult numbers.
For many…. 4208(47.5+92.8)  

Is daunting.

                                                 2(2+2)

Less so.
 (The answer to the last one is 8. As for the harder one.. you’re on your own) 

In a sense, this process follows the Applied Behaviour Analysis principle of shaping behaviour from the sample to the complex. It’s how we learn to swim and read and drive… and it’s a good way to learn advocacy.
That being said, the best way I know to help you understand the labyrinth of the Ontario special education regulatory scheme is to initially refrain from addressing issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ASD is, in a word, “complicated.” The diagnosis shifts over time and has many facets and related conditions. In short, it has many moving parts…

100 Nights Of Advocacy – Night 4
In a sense, this process follows the Applied Behaviour Analysis principle of shaping behaviour from the sample to the complex. It’s how we learn to swim and read and drive… and it’s a good way to learn advocacy. 

That being said, the best way I know to help you understand the labyrinth of the Ontario special education regulatory scheme is to initially refrain from addressing issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

ASD is, in a word, “complicated.” The diagnosis shifts over time and has many facets and related conditions. In short, it has many moving parts.

Also, if you care for and about the child on the spectrum, there is a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. The facts of their child’s life cloud and obscure a clear view of the process.

I first learned the value of explaining special-education regulations in terms of a single trait physical disorder in my work teaching special education to teachers and educational assistants. When I spoke about the needs of the child who was blind or mobility challenged they got it. Such disabilities are immediately obvious to the senses and engage our “common sense”. By initially substituting a single physical limitation for ASD we replace big numbers with small numbers so that our common sense can perceive what should be. It allows you to say things like “Tom Cruise is in grade 9 and is profoundly learning disabled. He can’t read. How are we going to help him pass grade nine English?”

One final thought. We will use scenarios to explore of the material. Key concepts will be woven into the material. There will be links to source material, letter templates and other related resource material.

The Case of Emily

Emily Green was six years old and should be in grade one.
She has moved from another province.
She was visually impaired. She saw nothing. Her blindness was absolute.
Emily had a medical diagnosis of profound vison impairment.
There was no concern about or evidence of any other limitation or condition.
There were no behavioural or safety issues.
Emily had no system in place to allow her to access the curriculum. The other children could look at pictures and learn to read and print and draw but Emily could not.

In September her mother, Ms. Green, walked into the neighbourhood community school on the first day to register her daughter. She also asked to meet immediately with the principal to talk about her daughter.

The principal, Ms. Smith, responded by arranging to speak to the mother that morning. She immediately spoke to the school’s special education resource teacher as well as the classroom teacher to talk to them about Emily and her needs. The school also allocated an educational assistant for part of the day to provide support.

Good Practices Comment: The principal and the school acted appropriately by taking immediate action to provide initial programs and services and to collaborate with the parent.

Relevant legislation and legal principles.
30. 9. (1) In accordance with requirements under the Education Act, no pupil is to be denied an education program pending a meeting or decision under this Regulation. O. Reg. 181/98, s. 9 (1).
The concreteness of the visual impairment makes it obvious and self evident that Emily should be in school. It is also always clear that a child with a visual impairment should and could be identified with an exceptionality. The regulation states that programming and services must not wait until the child is identified.
The Education Act states that all children have a right to be school.
32. (1) A person has the right, without payment of a fee, to attend a school in a school section, separate school zone or secondary school district, as the case may be, in which the person is qualified to be a resident pupil. 1997, c. 31, s. 13.

Ontario’s human rights regimen would also come into play if the school in any way either denied or limited access to school or denied or limited appropriate accommodations for Emily to have meaningful access to education.
Under the Code, education providers in both the publicly funded system and in private schools have a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. 
Ontario Human Rights Commission – Elementary and Secondary Education
Note: Words are important. When legislation uses verbs like “can” or “could” the statement is optional. When the regulation uses verbs like “shall” or “must” whatever the regulation states is mandatory.

It would be rare that a child like Emily would be denied access to a school and/or at least some level of programs and services. However, schools could conceivably respond in a variety of less productive ways including: 
• Providing for no support.

• Providing a limited support.

• Allowing for unsafe situations to occur.

• Denying entry/registration until some future meeting.

• Denying entry into the school

 We will explore strategies based on regulations and law to encourage schools to comply with their obligations later on.
100 Nights of Advocacy – Night 5

Emily’s mother, though pleased with the support and engagement from the school asked Ms. Patel, the Resource Teacher, if they could identify Emily through an Individual Placement and Review Committee. (IPRC). 
Possible Responses

 • The School promptly begins to schedule an IPRC.

• The special education teacher/principal/other staff respond with some combination of the following…

     They do not IPRC children until grade ?

     They do not IPRC children unless they are to be moved into a special ed class/get educational assistant support/etc…

     They can provide the child with appropriate support without having an IPRC.
Let’s assume that the school was in someway reticent to schedule an IPRC. Why?  It is important have some empathy for the world view of school staff.  In some cases, school boards have particular ways of doing things that have grown organically over time.  They have a culture of shared beliefs and practices.  An additional consideration is that from the point of the view of the school, IPRCs can be resource consuming and do not from their point of view do not always come with resources.  It is common for educators to say that they can meet the needs of the child without an IPRC.  
Yet, for a variety of reasons we will look at next, the IPRC is a legislated procedure that protects the rights of children.
100 Days of Advocacy – Night 6

 

There is really
no need to identify your child. he can get the support he needs without a formal identification.”

Yes, but….
To Identify or Not Identify

100 Nights Of Advocacy – Night 7

The past post looked at how ASD can and should be identified with an IPRC.  Likewise, though many school boards might be reticent to identify a child with other conditions such as Attentional Deficit Hyperactity Disorder, Fetal Alchohol Spectrum Disorder and others that are not specifically noted in the IPRC regulations,  there is often a strong argument that can BR made to identify such children.  We will explore this issue later.
Back to the story of Emily
Emily’ mother, after consideration, requested an IPRC meeting in writing to the Principal of the school.

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Good Practices Comment
Below you will find a sample IPRC request letter. This letter is sent to the principal directly. It is a good practice to bring the letter in yourself but you must remember to remain positive in your interactions. I suggest a paper copy be give, though an email copy could also be sent. If this is not an initial IPRC make any changes appropriate. The letter is brief and to the point. Be sure to individualize the template and make it yours.

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The Principal

Name of School

Address of School

Date

Dear Mr. or Ms (Name of Principal)

Re: (Name of Child) (Date of Birth)

The purpose of this letter is to request that you refer my daughter/son to the school board’s Identification, Placement and Review Committee for the purpose of identifying her/him as an exceptional child and of determining the most enabling educational placement with appropriate programs and Services for her/him.

I do want to thank you for your consideration for and support of my son/daughter. The school has been very embracing and accommodating of Emily and her needs.

Emily father, Mr. O’Neil, has a visual impairment and will require materials written in Braille.

Thank you for processing this request promptly. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely
(your name)

cc (Superintendent of your Family of Schools)

!00 Nights of Advocacy – Night 8
Effective Practices – Considering write or typing the note on paper, date and sign. Either call and/or email to confirm that it was received. Avoid adding other issues related to your child and/or the school into the letter or confirming communication. Do not include any grievance in either. These are specific purposeful letters. Any additional material should be positive.
Care should be given to be positive in your interactions with your child’s school and the school board as well as other service providers. This is particularly true with email and social media. It is normal to experience considerable frustration and anxiety when trying to obtain appropriate support for your child. It is not helpful , however, to allow your frustration to seep into your interactions with staff. Keep written correspondence as neutral and positive as you can. It is helpful to get a friend or family member to edit material before you send it.  

The 24 Hour Rule – When some event has made you upset, try not to despond in way for at least 24 hours. We generally regret immediate responses because they are not thought out and are fuelled by emotion.