There are many laws regarding education, disabilities, and civil rights. When you combine these three areas, you get very complicated laws. It gets confusing.
You have to learn what your child needs and how to get it to him or her.
Sometimes, the experts really are looking out for your child’s best interests. Sometimes, you have to have lots and lots of meetings until your child gets the accommodations necessary to get an appropriate education.
Sometimes, when all else fails, you have to hire a special education lawyer. Later in this post I list some special education resources, such as organizations that help families navigate the meetings, the letters, the phone calls, and the results.
New York State education law regarding CSE (Committee for Special Education) meetings has been changed recently.
If you want a parent member as an impartial witness and advisor at your CSE meeting, you must request it in writing at least 72 hours before the meeting. I strongly recommend that you request a parent member. I have found that having an objective person available helps put issues into the proper perspective on both sides of the table. Prior to this ruling, school districts were required to provide a parent member unless “affirmatively declined” by the parent. Here is the web page with the actual wording: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/formsnotices/meetingnotice/CSEmeetform.htm
Here are some web sites to assist you in acquiring a “Free and Appropriate Education” for your child:
Parent 2 Parent Long Island provides excellent advice: http://parenttoparentnys.org/offices/Long-Island/
Long Island Parent Center (at Long Island University): http://liparentcenterliu.org
Long Island Advocacy Center: http://www.theliac.org/Ask_the_Advocate.php
Long Island Center for Independent Living: http://licil.net/wordpress/?page_id=171
SEPTA (Special Education Parent Teacher Association). This link lists most Long Island SEPTAs: http://eastislipsepta.org/Septa%20Websites.htm
National PTA: http://www.pta.org/special_needs.asp
New York State Department of Education: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/quality/parents.htm
Wrightslaw is comprehensive and excellent: http://www.wrightslaw.com/topics.htm
I appreciate your comments and questions. If you wish to remain anonymous, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.