Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.
A recent series of articles on this website provides an overview of the special education process so you, as a parent, know what to expect. You have the right to make sure your child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and oftentimes that means a standard classroom environment does not meet your child’s special needs due to a disability. If your child is between 3 and 21 years of age, suffers from an enumerated disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the disability interferes with his or her classroom performance, you have the opportunity to seek special education and related services. More importantly, you can play a critical role on the planning and placement team (PPT) to evaluate your child’s special education referral to determine eligibility.
So, you’ve made it this far: your child is deemed eligible for special education and related services, but… what happens now? The PPT will hold meetings to establish an individualized education program (IEP), which is “a written plan detailing your child’s special education program,” including the following key elements:
Present levels of educational and functional performance;
Measurable educational goals linked to present levels of academic and functional performance for the coming year and short-term instructional objectives derived from those goals;
Evaluation procedures and performance criteria;
An explanation of the extent, if any, to which your child will not participate in the regular education class, the general education curriculum or extracurricular activities;
Modifications and accommodations your child needs to participate in the general education curriculum including nonacademic and extracurricular activities;
Special education and related services required by your child including transportation and physical and vocational education programs;
Recommended instructional settings and a list of people who will work with your child to implement the IEP;
The date services will begin and end, and the frequency of the identified services;
The length of the school day and year;
Statement of accommodations and modifications needed to facilitate CMT/CAPT, or district-wide testing;
Recommendations for participation in alternate assessments (if needed); and
Transition service needs.
Within five days after the PPT meets and develops your child’s IEP, you must receive a copy of the plan. The same goes for any future revisions.
Keep in mind that you have the right to participate in the PPT meetings, and your school district must work with you to select a time and place that works for both sides. You must receive five days written notice of any meeting to make sure you will be able to attend. This notice includes:
A list of who will be attending the meeting;
Affirmation of your right to bring with you other individuals who are able to provide support or who have knowledge and/or expertise with respect to your child’s needs.
An invitation to your child to attend if he or she is 16 years of age or older (or even if the child is younger, if participation is deemed appropriate), and “the purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the child”
If the school schedules the meeting at a time or location you cannot make, alternative methods of participation, such as a telephonic or video conference call, must be explored. However, if the school district repeatedly attempts to schedule a meeting and each time you are unable to attend, they may hold the PPT meeting without you; the school must maintain a results log documenting these attempts.
If you are the parent of a child that has a disability, it is imperative that you participate in this process so as to help maximize your child’s educational opportunities. Should you have any questions about special education or education law in general, it may prove beneficial to seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.
 “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq., and Robert L. Keepnews, Esq., pp.20.
 “A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Connecticut,” by the Connecticut State Department of Education, pp.4. Accessed October 9, 2012: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Special/Parents_Guide_SE.pdf
 Id. at 5.