Parents have certain rights and responsibilities under special education law. The school must give parents notice in writing of these rights at least once each year and at certain other times. The document that schools use can be hard to understand. For help understanding your rights, you may want to talk to people who work for one of the support organizations listed above under Family Resources and Support.
Parents and schools will not always agree about the education of a student with a disability. The first step to resolving disagreements is usually a meeting between the parents and the school. To request that meeting, contact your child’s special education teacher. If this does not work, there other options. Special education law provides three ways that parents and schools may use to resolve disagreements. You can contact the Vermont Agency of Education to ask for mediation, file a complaint, or ask for a due process hearing.
Resolving Special Education Disputes in Vermont: A Guide for Parents
This guide from Vermont Legal Aid can help you decide how to resolve a dispute with the school district. It gives information and resources to help you advocate for your child. It answers frequently asked questions about special education dispute resolution in Vermont. It guides parents and families who are going through the dispute resolution process without the help of a lawyer. It lists organizations that may be able to provide help in resolving disputes about your child’s education.
Educational Surrogate Parent Program for Children Who Don’t Have a Parent to Make Decisions
Some students do not have parents available to make educational decisions for them. There are several reasons for this. The student may be in state custody. The school district may be unable to identify or locate the student’s parents. Or, the student may be homeless. These students need someone to act as the parent in the special education process. In Vermont that person is called an “educational surrogate parent” or ESP. The ESP carries out the rights and responsibilities of the parent under the special education law.
Interagency Coordination for Children with Emotional Disabilities
Children and youth with emotional disabilities and their families often have many needs. They may need help from more than one agency to stay in their homes and communities. In 1990, Vermont passed a law called Act 264. This law was designed to help coordinate the services and supports they need. Click on the link above to learn more about interagency coordination.
Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
Questions and answers about IEPs and the special education process.
Every special education eligible student by age 16 must have, as part of their IEP, a plan to help them move from school to further education, training, employment and independent living. You may find these resources helpful: the U.S. Department of Education transition guide, and the Transition Toolkit from the Vermont Family Network.