As an advocate for students with disabilities, my goal is to accurately represent the educational needs of the student and to collaborate with school teams and educational agencies to develop ways to support student success. As there are several state and federal laws that mandate certain freedoms from discrimination as well as due process, I work within the boundaries of these laws and hold schools accountable to do the same.
As a practicing school psychologist within a Cincinnati area public school district, I am knowledgeable regarding the laws and regulations that affect students with disabilities and special needs. The most important of these are the Americans with Disabilities Act- ADA, and IDEA- Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act. I remain current with changes in operating standards relative to these laws as they occur. In addition to knowing the laws, I understand about the services that schools must provide and how services should be delivered. I am thoroughly aware of the scope and sequence of Multifactored Evaluations, Evaluation Team Reports and Individual Education Plans/504 Accommodation Plans. I am well versed in the efforts of School-Based Intervention Assistance Teams and the orientation of a Response to Intervention approach.
I advocate for students by:
- Attending school meetings and collaborating with the teaching team.
- Reviewing school records and making certain that all pertinent records are considered and available for review.
- Determining barriers to student achievement
- Suggesting strategies for both school and home to help the child succeed.
- Developing goals and monitoring progress to help ensure student success.
- Ensuring the school is held accountable to follow the laws for provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education
- Providing parents with information about options if the school and parents cannot come to agreement
- Assisting parents to consider alternative educational environments that might be a better fit
- Helping schools to understand that diagnostic terms such as dyslexia or dysgraphia are often consistent with how a school would define a reading disability or disability in written expression.
Advocacy occurs through:
- Honest dialogue about a student's needs and what should be done to help
- Educating parents about the laws and parameters as related to school service provision; explaining how they can be interpreted relative to their child's given learning profile.
- Effective communication with school teams
- Meeting with school teams to share what I know about a student's abilities and needs and to collaboratively determine appropriate interventions and accommodations. The operative word is to COLLABORATE. This effort does not have to be be adversarial.