Negotiating the Maze – 2

Parents, however, may have to strongly advocate to ensure that their child’s rights are met at school. It is the parent’s right and responsibility to see that their child has an appropriate educational program, and it is certainly acceptable for parents to advocate for their child.A parent’s relationship with the school/ school board is not a social relationship. It is a business/legal relationship with the goal of getting the most appropriate education for your child.

Most effective parent advocates share a combination of important knowledge and skills:

• An understanding of special education regulations and rules

• An understanding of special education law

• A sense of what I call procedural advocacy – how to act and conduct yourself in your interactions with schools.

• A realistic sense of what they want and how to work with staff to achieve their goals.

In the course of the next months we will explore all four of these skills in some detail. We will start with basic regulatory right all children with learning needs have in Ontario.

Negotiating the Maze – Ontario School Advocacy – 1

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

“How do I work with my child’s school?

Where can I find information about what my child has a right to?

“I don’t understand why I have to go through the same process year after year.

“All I want is the best for my child!”

“When I’m on my way to a meeting at the school I feel a tightness in an throat as I run through my head how the meeting will go”

Advocacy is about securing, protecting and advancing the rights of one’s self or others. Special education students have rights codified in Ontario Ministry Of Education regulations and the Ontario Human Rights Code and further developed in Court and Tribunal Decisions.