Surviving the Resolution Meeting
If you have a complaint with your child’s proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) or the way in which it is implemented, you have the right to file for due process. The resolution meeting is a legally required part of due process. While it might seem like just another hassle in the special education bureaucracy, the resolution meeting is an opportunity to negotiate with the school district and reach an agreement. If successful, a resolution meeting can allow you to avoid a formal hearing. Preparation is a critical component of successful meetings. Thoroughly reviewing all of your child’s special ed documents will help you remember the important little details during the meeting. Check out last week’s post on resolution meeting preparation.
Keeping Your Cool
It’s easy to become upset during resolution meetings and other special education procedures. You wouldn’t be at a resolution meeting if you didn’t have a problem with the school district’s plan, after all. Just remember that you are your child’s best advocate, whether that means taking American sign language courses at the College of Marin or taking on school officials in a contentious meeting. You will likely have to deal with listening to school officials talk about your child in clinical terms. Try to separate your emotions from your communication. Try to be optimistic about the possibility of resolution; the school district likely doesn’t want to go to a due process hearing, either. Keep an open mind and consider compromises, so long as those compromises still serve your child’s best interest.
Presenting Your Statement
While there is no specific, required agenda for a resolution meeting, you should expect to present a statement and discuss evidence to support your position. During your statement, discuss your goals for the resolution meeting. Explain your child’s educational needs and the obstacles to fulfilling those needs. Discuss some possible solutions to clear away the obstacles. Point to specific evidence that supports your statement. For example, you might tell the school officials that your child requires a one-on-one aide in the classroom and they do not feel that it is necessary. Pass around copies of a note from your child’s teacher, his speech therapist, or other professional that supports your position. Pass around samples of his schoolwork. Perhaps he showed remarkable improvement in writing when he had access to one-on-one help.
Try not to speak at a hurried pace. Make eye contact with each school official as you speak. However, it is perfectly acceptable to read from a written statement. You are not expected to memorize a 5-to 10-minute statement. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with public speaking, you might consider referring to notecards instead. Use whichever method you are most comfortable with.
Expect to haggle with the school officials. If you’re unaccustomed to negotiating, remember that you do not need to accept or reject a proposed idea right away. If a school official offers a compromise, ask questions about that compromise to be sure that it is in your child’s best interest. For example, a proposed compromise might be that your child will have access to a quieter area in which to work. Ask the school official whether that area will be within the classroom or in a separate room. If it’s in a separate room, who will supervise him? Can he work there on classwork or is it intended only for testing purposes? Will he have access to an aide while he works separately?
Never agree to (or reject) a compromise right away; always consider every possible angle and continue to ask questions until you are satisfied. If you’re not satisfied with the compromise, you might attach a few conditions to it or you might offer the school district an entirely new compromise.