Special Education Advocate
Special Education Rights Advocates help parents with ARD Meetings and 504 Meetings
Advocates help parents plan for the meetings, accompany parents to meetings, participate in the meetings, help parents see that the IEP agreements are put into practice.
Special Education advocates, or ARD advocates, work to identify students’ problems, and find solutions together with the schools’ representatives. Working in cooperation rather than assigning blame achieves better results and makes a good relationship between families and schools. Parents, schools and students need to talk with each other as they carry out agreements that come from ARD meetings and 504 meetings. Concluding ARD meetings in cooperative spirits helps the ongoing communications.
Gabriella Mackin of Educere helps parents meet with school counselors, and members of the schools' special education staffs in ARD meetings, where parents and schools negotiate and write appropriate IEP and 504 plans for each student according to the laws. Gabriella Mackin’s knowledge of education law is only surpassed by her passion to see that all children receive the proper accommodations to allow them the best opportunity for success. She herself is the parent of children with learning disabilities, two children with ADD/ADHD, and a child who is deaf and medically fragile. She helps her own and other families secure appropriate educational services from school districts.
• She assists parents with Due Process hearings and 504 complaints when necessary.
• For a Special Education Advocate or an ARD advocate, contact Gabriella through Educere.
Special Education Advocates’ preparation for ARD meetings
• Special education advocates gather information about a child’s disability and medical conditions.
• Special education advocates gather information about a child’s personality and behavior at home, in school, in other people’s homes.
•Special education advocates help parents write a statement of a child’s performance in school in the areas of academics, social interaction and behavior.
• Special education advocates help parents write evaluations of a child’s attainment of goals set by the current IEP. Some strategies of the current IEP may be working, and others may not be working.
•Special Education advocates help parents make a list of goals for a child and accommodations that are necessary to achieve the goals.
• Advocates help parents decide what is the “appropriate” education for a child, not “the best” education.
• Advocates review the parents’ records of evaluations, reports, goals and IEP objectives proposed by school personnel before ARD or 504 meetings.
• Advocate check the notices of ARD meetings, which have a list of school personnel who will attend, and help decide if all pertinent school staff will be there. Parents may agree or disagree with school’s excusal any members of a child’s educational team. Parents might agree to a staff absence if the person’s area of curriculum or services will not be discussed, or if the person sends a written report. If the person’s input will be given in writing, you should receive the report before the meeting.
Special Education Advocates’ role in ARD and 504 meetings
• Special education advocates foster good outcomes of ARD meetings by going in with an attitude of teamwork and cooperation.
• Special education advocates makes sure that all school personnel involved in a child’s education are attending the meeting.
• Advocates tactfully ask questions if they find that some school personnel do not know the proper procedures.
• Advocates help parents present the information that was gathered and written before the meeting, listen to reports and recommendations given by the school.
• The school may have written a proposed IEP. That is fine. Parents and school staff work together to combine their proposals into the new IEP.
• Compromises between parents and the schools may be necessary in writing and evaluation of IEP just completed, and writing the new IEP. Advocates help parents with the compromises.
• Special education advocates immediately recognize any statements or positions given by school representatives, which do not support a student’s rights, and discuss the issues immediately, rather than discovering them later and having to schedule another meeting.
• An advocate’s cooperative attitude in ARD meetings helps keep an open line of communication with school personnel, especially the child’s teacher.
• Advocates make sure all items agreed in the meetings are included in the written minutes of the meeting. Anything that is only discussed in the meeting, but not in the written minutes is not binding.
To discuss your child and your child’s school with Gabriella Mackin, use our contact form.
Gabriella Mackin is not an attorney.
To understand IDEA Law and Section 504, that are the basis of ARDs, 504 Meetings and IEPs, see our web page IDEA Laws and 504 Laws.
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