Special education system de-mystified | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Special education system de-mystified

Jill Darby

Parents of special education students have an opportunity to learn about the planning, strategies and advocacy within the special education system.

Michael Rosenberg, executive director of the Developmental Disabilities Area Board 3, is presenting a special education parent/professional training seminar May 16 and 17 in the Harveys Resort & Casino from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Parents are usually ill equipped to navigate the special education system,” said Nancy Libby, South Shore community resource parent for the Warm Line Family Resource Center in Sacramento. “The laws are very much supportive of parents and children in special education but parents are often unaware of what their rights are.

“This workshop will inform them of their rights and also give them tools and strategies to use when requesting services for their children. The workshop will give parents a lot of confidence in general to access the services that are available to their children. It will also alleviate a lot of frustration and confusion.”

Libby’s 10-year-old son is a special education student in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District system.

“My experiences with Lake Tahoe Unified School District have been positive and part of the reason is that the educators and administrators have been willing in my personal experiences,” Libby said. “The other part of that equation is that I have also been willing to educate myself.”

Suzanne Joy’s daughter went through the Lake Tahoe Unified special education system and now, as an adult, is working and living independently.

“Parents need to understand the lingo the school district uses,” she said. “If they can understand it as straight talk, they can get their child what he or she needs. People should think of the workshop as a connection.

“It’s a great opportunity for parents to network with other parents, caregivers and professionals who are committed to improving their child’s quality of life through communication and advocacy. I’ve been to a lot of different workshops. It really helps. It’s important for parents to remember that you are your child’s best advocate and knowledge is power.”

Joy recommends parents speak with children prior to the workshop to find out how they view the special education system. She said parents will benefit by collecting input from kids and making a list of goals and ideas to take to the workshop.

“Pick a good time at home and ask your child, what do they like about school?” she said. “What makes them happy during their day? What makes them sad? What do they wish they could do more of? Who do they like to spend time with? Do they like their teachers? Do they like doing activities as a group or are they more comfortable with one or two people?

“This is your child’s life and they need to be included in the planning process so if you talk about it at home first, then you write it down and bring it to the meeting, it helps facilitate planning.”

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