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If you have any questions about preparing for the new school year, contact one of our attorneys at (203) 221-3100.

Preparing for the New School Year in Summer

The school year has recently concluded, and it’s likely that you participated in an annual review meeting for your child’s individualized education plan (IEP) either in April or May. Alternatively, if the IEP team plans to convene in September or October once the new school year begins, they will review your child’s educational progress and update the IEP accordingly. During the summer months, it’s beneficial to carefully review your child’s IEP, organize evaluations and progress reports, and plan ahead to ensure a smooth start to the upcoming school year. Here are steps you can take to reduce stress for both you and your child as the new school year approaches:

Review Your Child’s IEP and Develop Questions

Take some time to thoroughly review each page of your child’s IEP and make note of any questions, concerns, or potential adjustments to their program. Depending on your child’s disability and the complexity of their educational plan, consider organizing your inquiries into different categories aligned with their specific goals and services. For instance, you might compile questions for the special education teacher regarding reading, writing, and math instruction, and separate questions for the speech and language pathologist concerning expressive and receptive language development.

As you go through each section of the IEP—such as goals and objectives, accommodations and modifications, and the allocation of specialized instruction and related services—take a step back to assess the overall coherence of your child’s program. Does everything align logically, or are there areas that might require adjustment? For example, if the IEP outlines several detailed reading goals but your child is only scheduled for half an hour of direct reading instruction per week, consider reaching out to the special education teacher to inquire about how these goals will be effectively addressed throughout the upcoming year.

Plan Ahead for Reevaluations

Under the IDEA, the school district must reassess your child at least once every three years, or more frequently if necessary to update the IEP and ensure she continues to receive an appropriate education at no cost to you. If your child’s three-year reassessment is scheduled mid-year, remember to inquire about the assessment process at your upcoming IEP team meeting. You can also reach out sooner via email or phone to the IEP case manager. Are there any areas of need that haven’t been assessed yet, but now seem to be a concern? For instance, if your child has recently faced challenges in making friends and interacting positively with peers, it might be time to assess her social and pragmatic language skills.

The three-year reassessment provides an opportunity to conduct additional assessments in any newly suspected areas of disability. Even if the three-year reassessment isn’t due until next spring, an assessment can be arranged at the beginning of the new school year if your child shows needs that may require an earlier update to the IEP. Alternatively, you can request to move up your child’s three-year reassessment to an earlier point in the school year.

Talk to Your Child About Their IEP

You’ve likely already considered reaching out to the principal, or perhaps your child’s teacher if available, during the summer to discuss any questions or concerns about the upcoming school year. This is especially relevant if your child is moving to a new school or program within the district, or if you’ve recently relocated from another town. However, it’s equally important to set aside time to discuss the new school year with your child and review their Individualized Education Program (IEP) together, as much as possible.

Your child may be particularly sensitive about their learning challenges and how they perceive their own abilities and needs in comparison to their peers. Take the opportunity to address any fears they may have, while also encouraging them to share what excites them about the upcoming school year and which parts of the school day they are looking forward to the most. For instance, if your child struggles with reading but excels in math, consider exploring if there’s a math club or similar activity they can join. If they are anxious about a new teacher or program, see if arranging an early school tour is possible, even before any back-to-school or open house events.

Reflecting on any challenges or positive experiences from the previous school year, especially in specific subjects or peer interactions, can also be beneficial. Even if you’ve recently had their annual review meeting, the summer provides an opportunity for further reflection and brainstorming new strategies for a fresh start. For high school students, it may be opportune to discuss vocational and career planning services as part of their transition planning. Initiating conversations about life after graduation and identifying the types of support they may need during high school to prepare for adulthood is valuable at any stage.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.