It’s important at the beginning of this project that 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 want 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 not 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 fairness was 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.
Next post Sept 10th…