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Copyright 2020 Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler 2020
All Rights Reserved.

August is New Student Orientation Month

By Jayne M. Wesler, Esq.

 

Can you believe it?

Once again, the summer is flying by. It seems as if we were just oohing and aahing over fireworks, and now we’re staring the start of school right in the face.

In August, parents are faced with inventorying everything their kids need for the first day of school, items like:

  • School clothing
  • Undergarments
  • Shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Gym Clothing
  • Backpacks
  • Lunch boxes
  • Bus pass and pickup location
  • Teacher assignments
  • Notebooks
  • Pens
  • Calculator

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, your list becomes more complicated.


Start-of-School-Year Checklist for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Like any parent, you start off with the basic list, above. But there are other things that you will consider. These include:

    • Don’t wait! School staff often take their vacations during the last two weeks of August. It is inconvenient for parents, but that’s just the way it is. TAKE ACTION NOW!
    • Review your child’s IEP or 504 plan.
    • Determine what responsibilities, if any, you have w/r/to the IEP.
    • Identify and purchase any materials you are required to supply.
    • Is transportation set up? Call the transportation department to ensure that all transportation services are set up for your child.
        • Where will they be picked up?
        • Where will they be dropped off?
        • Do they need assistance of any kind?
        • Do they require a car seat or other accommodation on the bus or van?
        • What will the route be?
        • If appropriate, drive your child along the transportation route before school begins so they will be familiar with it.
    • Arrange to take your child on a walk-through of the school and to meet with their teachers and other staff. This can boost your child’s comfort and confidence.
    • Did any of your child’s therapists—speech, occupational, or physical—use any aid, device, or intervention that was effective?
      Include it on your list to share with your child’s teachers and therapists.
    • Ask yourself whether your child’s needs have changed over the summer in ways that were not anticipated when the educational plan was written.


Make a list…check it twice.

    • Make a list of any changes.
    • Make a list of special events that occurred which may impact your child’s needs. For example:
      • Did your child make a friendship over the summer which you’d like to district to try and nurture?
      • Did your child learn a new skill that could be utilized in class or socially?
      • Did you provide any services to your child over the summer?
      • Has your child gotten a new diagnosis or had one removed?
      • Has your child’s behavior changed?
      • Have you developed a new way of managing your child’s behavior?
      • Have you developed a new way to assist your child with some kind of educational need (academic, social, or emotional)?
      • Has your child been receiving psychotherapy during the summer?
    • Write a short, informational checklist that your child’s case manager and teachers can use to deal with any of the changes. Make sure it is short and to the point.


Final checkpoints.

  • Schedule or attend student-teacher orientation with your child’s teachers.
  • Let your child’s teachers, case manager, and child study team members know that you are eager to be involved in your child’s educational plan.
  • Establish a rapport with them and offer them any assistance you will be able to provide. For example, would you be able to act as a class mother?
    Although this will be a time commitment, the investment usually has a huge return in the information you learn about your child’s teachers and the day-to-day workings of the class and
    the school.
  • Are all the services now in place?
  • Check in with your child. How are they feeling about returning to school? Is there anything you or the school staff can do to assist if your child is feeling unusually anxious?
  • Highlight anything on the plan that needs attention.
  • Email your case manager with a cc to the teachers, the therapists, and the director of special services to request a meeting to review any pertinent items that should be changed
    in your child’s educational plan.
  • Try to keep it short and sweet.
  • Recognize that the school year starts with a frenzy. You want your case manager to be open and able to receive and use this new important information, so you may have to be patient and wait two to three weeks before you can sit down with them.
  • If you get no response within a reasonable amount of time (48 hours), contact the director of special services as your CST may not return to duty until two days before school begins. That is not the time to try and get things set up. Your case manager will be overwhelmed with all the loose ends that need tying up before school starts. You don’t want to get lost in the frenzy.


If you need help with your child’s educational program, you may contact us at Sussan Greenwald & Wesler to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. You can reach us by phone at 609-409-3500.