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PREPARING FOR THE “HARD” ARD. Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? Decisions are made by the ARD Parents are required and powerful members of the.

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Presentation on theme: "PREPARING FOR THE “HARD” ARD. Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? Decisions are made by the ARD Parents are required and powerful members of the."— Presentation transcript:


2 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? Decisions are made by the ARD Parents are required and powerful members of the ARD

3 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? Parental participation in the IEP process is not only encouraged through a variety of procedural protections, it is actionable Gloria Justice M. v. Houston ISD (March 2003) – ARD failed to afford serious consideration to the parent’s request for aide support as a supplementary aide or service

4 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? o Amanda J. v. Clark School District (2001) – Ninth Circuit found that by “preventing Amanda’s parents from fully and effectively participating in the creation of an IEP, the District made it impossible to design an IEP that addressed Amanda’s unique needs as an autistic child, thereby denying Amanda a “FAPE”

5 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? –Adam J. v. Keller ISD (2003) – no denial of parental participation was found as at least one parent, and often both, were in attendance at every ARD meeting and the parents frequently presented supplemental “parent statements” to voice their concerns and frustrations

6 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? ARD action generally requires consensus Schools and parents don’t always agree

7 Why do we have to endure those “hard” ARDs? The unfortunate result is that difficult ARD meetings are part of the process. A small percentage of these disputes are completely immune from the school’s best efforts of prevention. Some angry parents cannot be satisfied, and sometimes, though rarely, there simply is no middle ground between the school’s position and that of the parent. As a result, there are times when the only advice is “hang in there.” Many difficult ARD meetings, however, can be rendered less-difficult by avoiding some common mistakes, improving our relationships with parents, and understanding the dynamics created by the ARD process.

8 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? The attitude of school employees can color, good or bad, the parents’ image of the school district and the service it provides to students with disabilities. While most educators are happy to comply with disability laws, there are always those who are too busy, have too many other students, or simply would rather not deal with the requirements of IDEA. Some of the more harmful attitudes adopted by school employees can be categorized:

9 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? oDinosaurs – this description has nothing to do with age, but everything to do with attitude. This title describes the employee who tells the class how he dislikes having to modify for Johnny and tells the ARD he/she can’t possibly comply with the IEP because he has 25 other students to teach. In face of this type of attitude, the parents can hardly be blamed for feeling that the district doesn’t care. Dinosaur attitudes are entirely incompatible with compliance and reinforce the image of the district as unlikely to help disabled students. At the very least, Dinosaurs cause parents to be suspicious of how students are treated in class and raise doubts about IEP implementation.

10 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? oGunslingers – these are administrators who know what the law requires but have found that the law gets in the way. For example, they will try to strong-arm ARD committees into making the “right” decision on manifestation determination so that long-term disciplinary sanctions are possible even for behavior clearly related to disability or inappropriate placement. They are perfectly content knowing that they are violating the law, and if asked, will likely say, “What are the odds? Let them sue.” Eventually, most gunslingers will likely get their wish.

11 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? oOfficious Interlopers – these are disgruntled employees who believe they understand the IDEA requirements far better than anyone who is actually familiar with the IDEA, but only share their views privately with parents of students with disability. The parents take what they hear as gospel, in part, because of the employee’s underlying message -- “the district doesn’t want you to know these things.” Not only is the information typically wrong or incomplete, these employees undermine the parents’ relationship with everyone else in the district since only the interloper is telling the truth. The result is a misinformed parent with unrealistic expectations about the district’s duties under the law and a distrust of the ARD committee that tries to correct the misinformation.

12 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? The Rude and the Thoughtless – Off-hand or thoughtless comments by staff about students with disabilities anger parents, and can result in long, nasty battles and complaints. Even if the educator and district ultimately prevail, time and money and sleep are lost in the process.

13 What can make an ARD committee meeting difficult? oThoughtless or disrespectful personnel place the district in a difficult position – The ARD process clearly requires cooperation and a certain level of trust. Unfortunately, off-hand comments by staff toward either students or parents can destroy or at least derail civil discourse. As a result of run-ins with personnel, parents have resorted to due process to prevent particular employees from attending ARD meetings with them.

14 Can the parents veto attendance by particular district employees at ARD meetings? NO – While the district is required to take steps to ensure that parents are present, the district is not required to substitute a person with someone to Ms. Parent’s liking in order to persuade Ms. Parent to attend.

15 You reassigned the aide sent from heaven Parents do not have the right to control which employees provide services to the child. The school district select appropriate personnel to implement IEP goals and objectives.

16 “Silver bullet” methodology The Supreme Court in Rowley held that the choice of educational methodologies should be left to school districts. As a result, a school does not have to provide Lovass- style programming (for example), or any particular type of methodology preferred by the parent, as long as it implements a program that is providing educational benefit to a student.

17 “And then they duct-taped him to a chair….” It is not uncommon for there to have been events or occurrences that the parent strongly insists should not occur again. It may be that the student was forgotten on a school bus until he awoke at the bus barn, was disciplined in an inappropriate way by a now-former employee, or perhaps was kept off a field trip or not allowed to participate at a class party. Interestingly, the event could be quite old, or perhaps, may never have occurred at all or perhaps the event was less traumatic than that remembered by the parent.

18 “And then they duct-taped him to a chair….” Unfortunately, these events can often serve as a source of on-going suspicion that undermines ARD decisions years later. Nothing solves this problem like current success. If the incident was investigated by the school and resolved, remind the parent of the resolution, and then move on. Gently remind the parent that the past cannot be changed, and the student’s continued success depends on the ARD focusing on what he needs now.

19 You can’t punish my child, he has a disability While IDEA restricts removals as a disciplinary technique, that restriction does not mean that students with disabilities are immune from discipline. Unfortunately, immunity from discipline is not an uncommon parent argument. Parents need to be gently reminded that IDEA does not restrict the school from imposing discipline, nor is that in the student’s best interest.

20 You can’t punish my child, he has a disability Note further that where the parent disagrees with manifestation determination, that disagreement does not require a recess should the student’s presence on the campus present a danger of physical harm to the student or others, when the student has committed an expellable offense, or an offense which may lead to AEP placement.

21 Do the parents have a right to dictate the time and location of the ARD? No – IDEA does not require that ARD meetings be scheduled at convenient times for the parent. It requires that they be scheduled at a mutually agreed-on time and place.

22 I can only meet after 7:00 and only in my home. Nope. A parent demand that ARD meetings be scheduled after work hours and in the home was rejected by an administrative law judge.

23 Can parents refuse to attend an ARD, and thereby stall an IEP or scuttle a manifestation determination? No. A parent cannot “pocket veto” the development of an IEP by refusing to attend ARD meetings or refusing to conclude the process. The law allows an ARD to proceed without parents in attendance when the school is unable to persuade the parent to attend. This rule applies so long as there is a record of the school district’s attempts to arrange a mutually agreeable time and place, including records of phone calls made or attempted, the results of those calls, and copies of correspondence sent to the parent and any responses.

24 The parent won’t agree with the other parent. When the divorce decree grants equal rights to both parents with respect to educational and legal decisions, the school must provide “notice” to both parents. Each parent can generally act alone to make decisions, leaving the other parent free to challenge the decisions reaches. In other words, schools can rely on the consent of only one divorced parent to move forward in implementing educational decisions.

25 What do you do when the parent walks out in the middle of the meeting Remember that the concern over parental attendance is to ensure their right to participate. If the parent’s departure is an angry one, indicate to the parent that the remainder of the committee desires to complete the meeting and encourage the parent to stay. Offering a break during which the parties can compose themselves may enable the committee to continue. Should the parent not be interested in a break, the committee may advise the parent that it will continue the meeting in the parent’s absence to complete the IEP. Assume that the parent is in disagreement and offer a recess.

26 What do you do when the parent disagrees Since IDEA desires consensus, disagreement needs to be resolved. In Texas, that means we offer a recess. If the recess is accepted, the parties should agree on the time, date and place of the recess meeting before leaving the meeting in which disagreement occurs. Only a single recess opportunity is offered. The meeting should occur within 10 school days.

27 What do you do when the parent disagrees The point of the recess is not the passage of time or a cooling- off period, but a refocusing on the reason for disagreement and efforts designed to bring the parties together. If no agreement is possible at the recess meeting, the district shall implement the IEP which it has determined to be appropriate for the student. The IEP should include a statement of the basis for disagreement, with members given the opportunity to write their own statements of disagreement. The district must provide appropriate notice to the parents that the IEP will be implemented over disagreement. The parents, can, of course, file a complaint, request mediation, or file for due process.

28 What do you do when the parent refuses to sign agree or disagree Assume that the parent’s refusal to sign agree or disagree is disagreement and offer the parent a recess. If the recess is refused, the ARD can implement the IEP. The minutes should reflect that the parent refused to sign and refused the offer of a recess.

29 What do you do when you’re being held captive in an 9-hour ARD meeting…. A good response to this problem is prevention. Where meetings with a particular parent have been unreasonable long – time limits are appropriate. In the ARD meeting notice, advise the parent that there will be a time limit for the meeting. Can we stop for today and come back? Of course.

30 Plan now for the difficult ARD meeting – you will need goodwill in the bank District’s relationships with the parent of student with disabilities can last many years. During that time, if the district is careful and attentive, it can be banking goodwill in case of problems later in the relationship. Good communication skills are key to developing trust.

31 Put yourself in the parent’s position….. Regardless of our level of education, common-sense and good judgment, we have each done things as parents that as professionals we would simply not do. Some general characteristics found among parents are as follows:

32 Put yourself in the parent’s position….. –Parents will sometimes lash out at your actions even if they know the child is wrong and the district’s response is appropriate. –Parents want respect for themselves and their kids. –Administrative convenience is usually not perceived by parents as a good reason for anything.

33 Put yourself in the parent’s position….. - Some parents are still intimidated by teachers, principals, and other educators, and may be reluctant to raise issues. - Parents sometimes want what they think is best for the child, not what’s fair or right. - Some parents may never realize that their view of their child is incorrect. Nothing you can do or say will change that

34 Put yourself in the parent’s position….. - Parents want to see your concern for their kids. - Parents vote for board members, patronize businesses owned by board members, and complain directly to board members even when they know they shouldn’t.

35 ARD meeting dynamics Consider the typical ARD meeting from the parent perspective. The ARD participants from the school may already be in the meeting room when the parents arrive. They have met in a staffing and are generally in agreement about what will occur. They are well-educated and professionally attired. They have been trained in compliance with IDEA and are familiar with the paperwork. The parent is outnumbered by people who use terms that are unfamiliar and may even speak a language that the parent does not understand well. Some parents will simply not respond cooperatively in this environment.

36 Educate the parent about the process and the parent’s role Communication is the key to the collaborative process envisioned by Congress to provide FAPE. At times the ARD (or at least a member or two) can do more good by sitting down and talking with a parent about the child than by any other activity. IDEA is complex – when the parent can get answers to concerns at school, everyone benefits. If the parent seems confused or uncertain about what to do, provide some simple reminders about the parent’s role in the meeting. Be accurate about the school district’s legal duties and the law’s requirements.

37 Build relationships of trust and respect with parents Don’t just sit there. Get up from the table and greet the parent with a handshake. If you can’t solve the problem, help the parent get in contact with someone who can solve it. If the problem can’t be solved, listen anyway, acknowledge the problem and be empathetic

38 Build relationships of trust and respect with parents Be approachable/accessible. Parents may not employ an attorney if they believe that they can talk to you and resolve things fairly. Listen carefully, even if you think the concern is wacky. Don’t let required procedure distract you from humanity

39 Build relationships of trust and respect with parents Avoid technical language whenever possible as it may not be understood by the parent and may be perceived as an attempt to talk over the parent’s head. To ensure participation and input, ask open-ended questions of the parent and do not interrupt the answer. Listen for verbal clues about possible concerns and follow up with additional questions. The more information you can elicit, the more involved the parent and the more likely the parent will support the ultimate committee decision. Use humor appropriately as a way to connect with parents and break the ice.


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