In the next week weeks, many parents of children who receive special education services under the federal IDEA Act will be invited to their child’s public school to attend an Admission, Review and Dismissal (“ARD”) meeting.
At this meeting, the ARD team will review the current Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) for the student and propose recommendations for the child’s education plan –
To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. – IDEA (§300.1)
At the ARD meeting, parents can agree or disagree with some or all of the proposals. If there is a disagreement with the proposed IEP, the ARD team can take a recess, negotiate terms, and reconvene (in ten days typically).
Preparing for such a meeting can be stressful for parents based on fear and anxiety for possibly failing your child by not protecting their rights or not demanding proper education services.
Parents who are engaged with the IEP process can find success by reading up on the following:
- school records (including daily reports),
- assessments from school and private sources (and knowing which new assessments should be requested), and
- education laws.
U.S. Supreme Court provides guidance in the recent Endrew F. case that a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all, setting the floor for the application of the holding in the Rowley case that the school must confer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.
At the ARD meeting, show up with your questions and notes and if you are considering agreeing to a new service or the removal of a service that you are not comfortable with but are willing to try out the situation temporarily, agree to try it out and have a follow-up meeting in a month to re-assess the situation. Under IDEA, the ARD meeting can occur annually or a often as needed allowing a parent to request a meeting in writing.
Take your time at the ARD, listen to suggestions, and stay on track with your goals for the meeting.