By Linda Broatch, M.A.
It isn't easy to make the decision to hire an advocate or attorney to pursue mediation or file for due process with a school district. Most likely, before you thought about hiring an advocate or attorney, you experienced a series of frustrations in your attempts to secure the services you feel your child is entitled to under her Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Understandably, emotions run high when you reach an impasse with school or district staff over your child's learning needs. You may worry that the tense situation will spill over into your child's daily school experiences. But, precisely because your decision will have short- and long-term consequences for you, your child, and your family's relationship with the school, it's worth taking time to think it through calmly and systematically.
Considering how much time, energy, and money it may require to pursue formal mediation or due process, you may want to make a final review of your IEP process to date, before you call an attorney or advocate. This review may uncover new information about your rights and responsibilities or a new negotiating option open to you. On the other hand, it could simply make clearer your reasons for going forward with mediation or due process.
If you haven't already done so, you may find it helpful to:
Ask the director of special education in your school district what alternative processes are available to resolve the type of issue you face
Review the steps in your IEP process to date to make sure that:
Refresh your memory about the laws relevant to your child's situation
This is by no means a complete list of questions to ask yourself; the questions are just suggested starting points to review your process to date.
If you decide to engage an advocate or attorney to represent you in mediation or due process, use our worksheet "Questions to Ask Attorneys or Advocates" to help you organize your search.
While we are pleased to present information and resources, it is against our policy to recommend or endorse any one specific individual, product, organization, or website. Because parents know their child best, they are the ones who determine the appropriateness of a school or provider based on a match of their child's needs, their own preferences, and the program or services offered. These questions are intended only as guidelines in the decision-making process.
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