General Questions And Questions Specific To Windsor Law LLC
What Is Special Education?
Special education refers to services given to students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, better known as IDEA. Students in special education require significant modifications in their educational programs; they may need extensive remediation, smaller-group settings, adaptations to their workload, a slower-paced curriculum or other adjustments to suit their abilities and limitations as determined by a team of educators and parents working together. The team develops an IEP, or Individualized Education Program (or Plan), a document that spells out exactly what the school will do and what goals have been set for the student. Students in special education may be taught in a regular classroom with supports, a self-contained classroom or a special school for students with similar disabilities.
What Kind Of Other School Help Is Available For Students With Special Needs?
Not all students with special needs will require special education. Those with physical disabilities, medical issues or learning problems that do not require a major realignment of their educational program may benefit instead of a specialized tutor or organizational guidance for a short while. Others may require an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan.
Both are a benefit of disability law that seeks to make education accessible for every student. If a 504 is not necessary or obtainable, parents may still get special assistance for their child by providing materials to the teacher and school officials and by making recommendations as to the best way to keep the student safe and successful. Although the school’s cooperation will not be mandated under those circumstances, good teachers and administrators will want to be aware of issues and offer what help they can.
What Is Early Intervention?
The term “early intervention” refers to services given to very young children with special needs, generally from birth until the child turns three. For this reason, these programs are sometimes called “birth to 3” or “zero to 3.” Services included are speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, provided either in an office or in the child’s home.
The hope is that these services, provided early, will address any delays in development so that the child will not need services later on. At age three, if a child still needs help, he or she might be referred to the school district for special education preschool. Your pediatrician should be able to refer you to early intervention providers in your area, or you can find your state’s office in charge of early intervention and make the contact directly.
Will My Preschooler Carry This Identity Throughout His Or Her School Years?
When your child nears the age that your school district sets as the starting point for kindergarten – most likely, five years old – it’s time again to think in terms of transition. For most children with special needs, this will mean a transition from a preschool program to a kindergarten program. It may also involve a transition from a partial day to a full day, from one school to another or from one type of educational plan to another.
This transition can be as big as deciding that your child no longer requires special education services and is ready to move on to a mainstream class without classification. Or it can be as small as deciding that your child isn’t quite ready for the big time yet and will benefit from another year in the familiar setting of preschool.
You’ll be helped in making this decision by an IEP team that should include your child’s teacher and therapists, a learning consultant, a social worker and a school psychologist. Your child will likely receive another thorough evaluation and a formal classification for special education if that’s the route that seems appropriate.
Before you offer your opinion on that, make sure it’s an informed one. Ask to see some of the options available to your child. Visit a mainstream kindergarten classroom and really think about how well your child would fit into that environment. Do the same for a self-contained kindergarten classroom or one with inclusion teachers available. Ask how placements would differ for different possible classifications and view those options. If an out-of-district placement is suggested or is something you would like to pursue, visit those classrooms as well.
If it’s possible to talk to your child about what he or she likes and dislikes about preschool, find out if there are any preferences as to where or who he or she would like to be with. Have an honest conversation with your child’s teacher, too, about the strengths and weaknesses of your child in various situations and find out what the teacher recommends and why. The teacher is second only to you in time spent with your child, and probably has a good sense of what other classrooms are like and how they have worked out for other students.
This is a big, important transition, to be sure, but it’s not a disaster if you don’t get it exactly right the first time. It’s not unheard for students in regular education to delay kindergarten a year or take it over if a little extra maturity is needed. Once you’ve made the decision as to where your child should go at age five, stay on top of the situation. Be open to the possibility of changing things that aren’t working or adjusting a placement that was either too ambitious or not ambitious enough.
As your child starts formally on the long road of schooling, you start on the long road of school advocacy. Those are both scary things but filled with opportunities as well. Prepare to make the most of it.
How Much Information Does My Teacher Need To Know?
- Find your child’s disability. Go to the index of school information and click on the link for your child’s particular diagnosis. If you don’t see it on the list, see if you can find something similar and adapt it to your needs.
- Read over the “Five Things Teachers Need to Know.” Some may be more appropriate for your child than others. Some might need additional information specific to your child. Some will need to have the “he” or “she” switched to your child’s gender. Personalize these suggestions for your own child’s strengths and needs and write them in a note to the teacher.
- Add any additional information. Some pages include sections titled “Teacher Tips” or “Educational Implications.” Review these, take what seems appropriate to your child and include it in your correspondence to the teacher. You’ll also want to add any of your personal observations and techniques that have worked well in the past.
- Click on each of the “Printouts to Share with Teachers” and read them through. Some are short, while others are quite lengthy. Pick the ones that you think are most appropriate to your child and of most interest to the school. Sending in too much information all at once may make it seem like an overwhelming a chore for your child’s teacher. You can always offer to send in additional resources later.
- Print the printouts you’ve chosen. Print them on good white printer paper so they’re easy to handle and read. If you like most of the resource but there is a section you disagree with, cut that section out and make a photocopy of that page to include. If it’s a sentence you disagree with, use white-out to eliminate or change it and then photocopy that page.
- Make a final draft of your note to the teacher. It should be no more than a page long, whether handwritten or typed. Start with a positive sentence about how much you’re looking forward to working with the teacher this year; mention the specific things the teacher needs to know as adapted from our lists; mention that you will be attaching more information; and end by giving your phone number and email address and indicating your eagerness to discuss the material.
- Put together a nice package. If the printouts are not very thick, you can staple them to the note or put the note and pages in a plain letter-sized envelope. If the printouts are bulkier, try putting the note and printouts in a large manila envelope, inter-office envelope or clear plastic portfolio. The more seriously you take this material and your presentation of it, the more seriously the teacher will take it.
- Follow up. If you don’t hear anything from the teacher, check back in a few days with a note or a phone call to make sure she received the material and is reviewing it and to repeat your offer to discuss it further.
- Remember, the start of school is a hectic time for teachers. Even with the best intentions, they may not want to spend their free time reading reams of material. If you can put together a package that looks manageable and well-thought-out, you’ll move to the front of the class.
- In your note, focus on the ways that using techniques appropriate to your child’s special needs will make things easier for the teacher, rather than insisting on rights and obligations.
- Keep your tone friendly, helpful and no-nonsense – one professional to another. You are writing as an expert on your particular child and his or her diagnosis, not as a pleading or pushy parent.
- Make a copy of all correspondence for your records. Using a datebook or a contact log, jot down when and what you sent to the teacher, and what follow-up you made.
Windsor Law LLC – Specific Questions
What Can I Expect From Windsor Law LLC When I Decide To Engage In One Of The Four Programs Offered?
Windsor Law LLC offers four programs.
We use a four-legged stool to symbolize your child’s educational representation depending on the nature and severity of the problem.
- PROGRAM ONE or PHASE I: Information gathering and testing phase to determine the problem
- PROGRAM TWO or PHASE II REPRESENTATION: Annual partnership – This includes guidance in gathering school and medical records, as well as providing guidance for follow-up testing when needed over a 12-month period. This includes acute attention to critical issues such as Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and/or 504 Plans.
- PROGRAM THREE or PHASE III HOURLY REPRESENTATION: Specialized representation – that can only be solved through hourly representation such as planning for a Manifestation Determination Review Hearing or other complex matters. This too is tailored uniquely to your child.
- PROGRAM FOUR or PHASE IV REPRESENTATION: Focused representation with the goal of litigation. We do not like to see parents go this route unless absolutely necessary. We believe litigation should be used only as a last resort.
What Am I Expected To Provide?
What you will provide as a parent:
- Your child’s information – completion of provided forms and questions regarding your child’s history (this process is about four hours of devoted time to record their timeline of development).
- Access to results from all prior medical and psychological testing
- Willingness to have additional testing completed to comply with the statutory requirements for services
- In most cases, an hour-long appointment with your child to have an IVA test to determine cognitive abilities
- Prompt attendance at appointed meeting time
Is There Ongoing Help And Direction From Windsor Law LLC?
Yes. We will act as navigators for your child by organizing and orchestrating the team and tools that are necessary for your child in order to identify and understand their specific and special needs for achieving academic success. You as the parents remain the decision-makers and provide the cooperation in gathering existing as well as new information regarding your child. Our partnership result should be a strategy for your child, who will then be equipped to act in accordance with greater confidence and ease throughout their school, college and career life.
Itemized list of what you can expect to receive with Phase II Annual Partnership:
- Guidance and strategy for requesting/retrieval of your child’s school records
- Discount for cognitive training software
- Eye test, reading speed and reading level evaluation
- Tracking records for one year using our software; reports will be available to you
- “Learning Style” test, which allows insight into learning style preferences and provided guidance for obtaining IEPs or 504s
- Personality tests for parents and children that allows insight into learning preferences, as well as an explanation for communication breakdowns
- Access to student’s three-ring binder provided to keep and organize all necessary information from which all parties involved will operate
- Resources – a library of relevant and helpful books, CDs, websites, etc. for parents and children
- Records for your child that you own – these are yours to use, share or take with you. This is a tangible exchange of your investment and Windsor Law LLC‘s legal expertise that should speak for our sincerity of focusing on the success of your child.
- Saturday tutoring support held at Windsor Law LLC from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. This is a service for up to four months under the yearly contract to help your student achieve academic stability.
What Happens If I Have A Unique Problem That Requires Going To Court?
We can address this either through hourly representation under Phase III or through filing a complaint under PHASE IV representation.
When and if this phase is determined, more and specific legal action is necessary in order to achieve the results your child needs and deserves, as defined by the legal statutes, as well as the unique facts and history of your case.
Attorney Windsor will represent your child, whether it is necessary to litigate or negotiate outside of the courtroom. For each child, this is different and unique to their needs. Therefore, each case is handled with that uniqueness in mind. Windsor Law LLC charges an hourly rate for representation.
We do our best to anticipate and project the number of hours necessary to prepare and present this information so that you will have an estimated cost before you commit.
Windsor Law LLC communicates realistically so that there are no surprises (or at least as few as possible). We make the commitment of estimated time and resources and must have your firm commitment before ever proceeding on your behalf. We then bill you for that representation.
We want you to know that as parents you remain in control and should make informed decisions regarding your child, their Florida-based education and opportunities for success according to the law.