Preparing for the Resolution Meeting
If you do not agree with the school district’s proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child, you can try to negotiate with them. If that fails, you have the option to file for due process, which is a legal procedure by which disputes are resolved. There are several different components to due process. The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004 mandated that the first step in due process must be a resolution meeting. Resolution meetings are similar to mediation in that the primary objective is to work out differences before resorting to a formal hearing. However, you should be aware that there is no neutral third-party present to moderate the discussion.
A huge part of dealing with legal issues in speech therapy is preparation. You prepped for the IEP meeting, you’ll prep for the resolution meeting, and you’ll prep for the due process hearing, if it comes to that. Having a child with a speech disorder creates a never-ending workday. However, your exhaustive preparation is crucial to achieving a favorable outcome for your child. There is no formal, set agenda for resolution meetings, so you’ll have to create your own. Do not allow the school district representatives to take the reins for the whole meeting; walk in there with checklists, agendas, statements, and evidence that supports your objectives.
The first step is to organize all of your documents. Review notes from your child’s teachers, his speech-language pathologist (SLP), and any other professional who has worked with him. Review evaluation reports, progress reports, school records, and recommendations. Review the IDEA regulations and copy the applicable sections.
Writing a Statement
With those documents, write a statement that specifically describes your child’s needs, his strengths, and his weaknesses. Give concrete examples whenever possible. For example, make a note of how many times your child’s teacher has told you about his lack of attentiveness. Offer specific solutions for each issue that you raise in your statement. You might point out that moving your child closer to the blackboard will help him pay better attention to his teacher’s instructions.
If you have trouble writing the statement, ask yourself these questions:
- What are Michael’s problem areas?
- How does Michael’s speech disorder affect his academic progress?
- How can special education services help Michael succeed?
- What classroom modifications will help him?
As well, anticipate questions that the school representatives might ask you. They may ask you about your child’s progress with his current speech therapy treatment plan, for example. Practice responding to questions and giving your statement in front of the mirror or with your partner.