Summer isn't just a courtESY

Special Ed on Special Ed

23-06-2021 • 45 min

Summer's coming!  So today, special education parent and advocate, Lisa Lightner, founder of A Day in Our Shoes, joins me to discuss Extended School Year services.  What are they?  Who gets them? And do you need them?

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A transcript of this episode can be found here shortly after the episode is published:

TRANSCRIPT (not proofread)

parents, child, ies, extended school year, iep, school, school district, hear, social skills, students, program, summer, services, lisa, special ed, offering, camp, regression, week, disabilities
Dana Jonson

Dana Jonson  00:02
Hello, and welcome to need to know with Dana Jonson. I'm your host, Dana Jonson. And I'm here to give you the information you need to know to best advocate for your child. I'm a special education attorney in private practice, a former special education teacher and administrator, a current mom to four children with IPS and I myself have ADHD and dyslexia. So I've approached the world of disability and special education from many angles. And I'll provide straightforward information about your rights and your schools obligations, information from other professionals on many topics, as well as tips and tricks for working with your school district. My goal is to empower you through your journey. So please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss any new episodes. And I want to know what you want to know. So like, follow and drop me a note on my need to know with Dana Jonson Facebook page. Okay, let's get started. Hello, and thank you for joining me today. I'm very excited to talk about the extended school year today. We are in mid June, which is the end of the school year. And so hopefully if your child requires Yes, why you've already established that in your IEP. But what we're going to talk about more is why do we have it? What is this? Why? Why do we have it? Why do we want it? And do we really want to use it. And I have with me Lisa lightner, who is a parent, and advocate and the founder of a day in our shoes, which is an amazing resource for parents a website with an amazing resource. And we'll get into all of that in a minute. But I wanted to first touch on the fact that if you have not heard yet, I will repeat myself I am going through a transition or not I am not my podcast is need to know with Dana Jonson is going through a transition. And next week will be the final episode as need to know with Dana Jonson. And then I will relaunch again in August as special ed on special ed, it will be special ed experts talking about special ed topics. So basically the exact same content. I'm just changing the name and the logo, because what I learned is that when you search for a special education podcast, need to know doesn't necessarily pop up on your screen. So I have a wonderful and solid loyal audience. And I love you all. And I want to reach more people. So we're just going to change do some cosmetic changes. But I'll be back in August with all the same great content. So I do hope to see you there. Now back to Yes, why? Hello, Lisa, thank you so much for joining me today. Yay. I want to talk to you because you have a lot of experience with special ed and also with helping parents and with going through the process yourself. So I was hoping you could give me a little background and maybe introduce yourself and how you and a day in our shoes came to be because that website is so amazingly full of information for parents, and probably teachers and administrators as well. I'm going to guess a few of those peruse your site.

Yes, I know that I do get a lot of school staff traffic, especially for my lists of IEP goals and the various disciplines or areas of need. So yeah, so it's good for both parents and school staff. Although my main goal from the get go and you know, as it continues to be today, as always been to help parents understand the IEP process. Actually, in March, the site just turned 10 years old, which is a little crazy. I know, I can't believe it. Prior to that I actually did have a different I had a separate site and I was working as a teacher, I used to teach a vocational program. And I had a sight completely unrelated to anything disabilities. But I did have a baby with disabilities, his preschool sent home a flyer to take training to become a special ed advocate. His school did. Yeah, he went to an arc preschool.

Dana Jonson  03:55
Okay, that makes more sense. I'm envisioning the public school sending you out a flyer. I

know you went to an ark preschool. So they sent home a flyer to do this special ed advocacy training. And I did it merely because he was a toddler. And I said, you know, this seems like a lot. And I already understood that like, Whoa, this is pretty overwhelming because people were always coming to my house and explaining things to me and paperwork was just, you know, phenomenal.

Dana Jonson  04:25
It Anyway, during the lab work and special ed.

But during the last recession, I lost my job during the 2008 recession. I lost my job, I was already in the training. So suddenly, I had a lot more time on my hands and became you know, was still going through the training, started volunteering, merge that into working part time for the arc as an advocate and then went on, you know, went off on my own started the website. And it's funny because I started the website actually with another friend who is also an advocate and we were like, oh, we're gonna like this website's gonna be about everything special. needs and like we live near where we live in Philadelphia. And we're like, we're going to list camps. And we're going to list programs and support meetings. And I mean, for Philadelphia alone, that amount of information is completely overwhelming. And what I, what I had learned early on is that parents really weren't just coming to the site for the IEP information. And, you know, some of my earliest posts are on things like what to do when your child's suspended manifestation hearings, and just because no one explains that to them and in language that they can understand and kind of walks you through the process. So you know, really, it was the parents who told me, this is what we need to hear, this is what we want to hear. So it's just grown since there.

Dana Jonson  05:44
I love it. Because I feel like as you said, it breaks things down in a way that is consumable. You know, that makes sense. And I even find, for me, when I go to look something up, if I go to another attorneys page, sometimes about something in the law, and even I get bored, you know, like, this is so dry. So it's great to have that translation, you know, in what I call real, you know, I

do read Ida off and in the procedural safeguards, and the Federal Register that goes with it. And you know, it's those paragraphs, you have to go through them three and four times and the sentence at a time and well, then there's case law that defines it afterwards. And it's not really clear cut or black and white as we'd like it to be

Dana Jonson  06:25
let's talk about is why does your child heaviest? Why did you have to have this battle at some point?

Well, first of all, let's let's just clarify, because I do this to ies y means extended school year.

Dana Jonson  06:35
Yes. Thank you for slowing me down. I talked so fast. And sometimes I completely forget that. I'm just talking in my own language. But you're right, we're talking about extended school year services, not summer school, not camp, it's very specific service, that children who qualify are entitled to from their school district. And it's an extended school year. That's exactly what it sounds like. It means that your school year will continue beyond when the typical school year ends. So how do we get there? Lisa, why do we want it? What is it?

Right? Well, so first of all, you said, Did you ever do that battle? And I'd have to say No, I've never had to fight that battle with my child. That's great. Pennsylvania actually does have one case, he's in what is known as the Armstrong group. And it was based on a case you know, Armstrong versus someone I don't remember who it was. But the Armstrong group is kids whose needs are, you know, they're pretty high needs pretty severe autism, intellectual disability, situations like that. So it's kind of like says kids in the Armstrong group are always going to qualify for Yes. Why they're always going to need it. So he's in he's in that group. So it's not thankfully, that's one battle, I don't have to fight every year.

Dana Jonson  07:54
Well, that is a good point. And and to start right off the bat, let's talk about why a student might need Yes, why. And I think that there is a misconception, there are several misconceptions about it. One is that it is only for regression. So right, only if you're going to regress, now, all students regress, right? So let, let's just start there, all of them regress over the summer, it's called the summer slide. That's why we have those silly packets, we have to force them to fill out and do over the summer. And you know, in the first month of school is really teachers trying to get kids back into the swing of things and caught back up and figuring out where their slides were. And for children with disabilities, if they are going to regress even more than that typical amount, then that's when we're looking at extended school year services. But what you're saying about this arm strong group in Pennsylvania, which is specific to your state, but we also argue here in Connecticut, which is and everywhere else is that if the nature of the disability is so severe, that the student requires those additional weeks or months to meet their goals and objectives, because that's what they require. They're continuing to work on those pieces, then they might also qualify for extended school year.

Yeah. And they're actually you know, as you know, there are other criteria, as far as is the child on the verge of an emerging skill, how long it takes them to recoup lost skills, and things like that. So I think that that is probably the biggest myth out there that, you know, he he doesn't regret he's not at fear, or he's not at one of the standard line that I hear from parents is that he's not at risk for regressing, so he doesn't qualify.

Dana Jonson  09:34
Well, I think that's how do you define regression? Because as you said, if you're on the verge of an emerging skill, and if you wait till September to continue it, and you will lose that ground, that's called regression. I mean, I think that's how I look at it anyway, you know, so I think we have to look at it from a lot of different places, and sometimes I hear well, they're fine on Christmas break. So we don't have regression,

right? And that's where I tell parents that you know, It's you have to stay engaged in the process, you know, year round. And because a lot of kids, I mean, a lot of kids do regress, even over Christmas break, but the parent doesn't necessarily document that or it's not the things aren't as visible. And I have to remind parents all the time that, you know, teachers in schools only see what happens at school. So if you're seeing additional things at home, you need to start documenting that. Right.

Dana Jonson  10:24
And that's been a neat change over COVID. Right, is that I think parents voices are getting a little louder. Yeah, because they're actually seeing this progression or understanding what regression is. And, and I think that's a good point, because maybe, as you said, an emerging skill. And I'm saying, I see that as regression. But if the parent doesn't know that emerging skill is happening in school, then the parent isn't going to know to document the regression either. Right? So a lot of that comes back to communication and understanding what's in the IEP and what your child is working on.

Yes. And I believe, and I, sometimes I get confused in my head, I'm like, is this Pennsylvania specific? Or is this Ida, but I believe it's in Ida that no single factors should decide whether or not the child gets Yes, why. So even if that alone, if you're saying, well, the child doesn't regress enough to get Yes. Why? Well, Ida says, it shouldn't be any one single factor,

Dana Jonson  11:16
right? There should take in a whole bunch of components. And as we know, every child is different. And we individualize. So how do you find ies wise typically provided when you're advocating for students? And you're looking for extended school year programs? How do you find that that is typically provided to families?

Yeah, so one of the other tenets of ies why is that it's supposed to be individualized? No.

Dana Jonson  11:45
I heard a rumor.

But that is honestly I would say, and I get it, I get that only certain teachers agree with their contract to work over the summer, certain therapists, things like that, and busing and, you know, bus, what's the word? I'm looking for contracts and therapist contracts, you know, because a lot of these things, therapies and you know, like bcbas, and transportation, mostly, you know, a lot of schools don't have their own they contract out. So I get that, from an administrative standpoint, it makes a lot of sense to just say, Hey, we're doing four weeks in July, Monday through Thursday, nine to one See you there. But around here anyway, that's getting to be just the norm. You know, hey, we'll see in July, Monday through Thursday, nine to one,

Dana Jonson  12:32
right and less if it depending on when the Fourth of July falls? Yes. Right. Because that could add or eliminate a whole week,

right? And then we have a whole other situation where in the city, if the buildings aren't air conditioned schools get canceled. And a lot of you know, because I live in an old area. I live near Philadelphia, and a lot of these buildings aren't air conditioned. So then that throws in a whole other.

Dana Jonson  12:55
No, yeah. And Connecticut schools can't go past the end of June because no schools are mandated to be air conditioned. And it's hot here. You know, we had a heatwave the other week, I was surprised, no schools closed. Because you need air conditioning in Connecticut in the summer.

Right. And they did actually, that was just You're right. That was just like last week, and Philadelphia schools did dismiss early they dismissed at lunchtime each day, because it just got too hot. So yes, I would say the biggest trend and but it's also the biggest concern is just that that whole individuality piece, as far as eBay just gets tossed out the window. And I think parents need to engage more and investigate. Like, I think they spend so much time focusing on whether or not their child qualifies. And oh, I just want them to get as why that they're not digging deep and saying, Okay, I gotta Yes, why now what's going to happen? Because it's to be based on your child's IEP. And if they're going to do you know, two hours of La each day and two hours of math and then send your kid home, and your child doesn't necessarily have needs in those areas, then you know why, you know, nobody wants to go to school in the summer, right? As Americans, we're just we're programmed to not think about school to not go to school in the summer, and nobody wants to do it. So if you're going to get your child in ies why let's make it meaningful, right? Let's, you know, if they're going to go and you're going to do that, let's make it meaningful.

Dana Jonson  14:15
I hear that as well, that, you know, we want as why we want as why, and then, you know, maybe I get EMI for my client. And later they say, Well, that wasn't really what they needed. I have to remind clients that that you are the parent, and they're all these experts around you. And you know, I'm using air quotes for experts that you can't see. But there are all these experts around you telling you what it should be. And at the end of the day, as you said, if if it's focused on math and reading and your child's issues, their social skills, and schools can't mandate typical students to attend summer programs or ies. Why then is that program really benefiting your child? You have to figure that out. There's no one else around is going to do it for you.

The flip side of that is that parents who are fairly certain that their child is going to get the Guess why they some of them jump right to the so I found the summer camp. mean, I found the social skills summer camp, and I'm going to make the school pay for it. Meanwhile, social skills isn't even an identified area of need in the IEP. So right, you know, again, it has to be individualized. But it also has to be defined as an area of need in the IEP. And as you said, they cannot force non IEP students to attend Yes, why to enable that LRE.

Dana Jonson  15:26
That's a very good point, because I have had parents call me and say, You know, I think my child really needs the social skills piece. But there is no social skills, as you said, in the IEP, that's a red flag, right? If, if you're looking for a service that is not in your child's IEP, it should be, then we need to revisit that whole component. Because, you know, some children, if they go the whole summer, and they don't have friends, their parents can do their level best to get those interactions, but they're not getting that peer interaction, like they get at school. And that's a really long time to go without that.

Right. It is, and especially this year, you know, because many had at least a year gap, if not more, you know, some stayed home through May or June and are not going back until the fall. So they haven't been there since last March. You know, and I know a lot of schools have been in the fall and it gradually more and more throughout the school year. But yeah, I mean, it's that is a long time.

Dana Jonson  16:22
Did you find where you are or where you are now? Do you find that schools are opening up ies wise and or summer school and or recruitment programs? Not recruitment Brit re yeah recoup recoup not recruit programs to help students who had that that huge gap because I find there are some some schools around where I am that are doing that that are being more proactive and saying like last year, they said anyone who wanted to go to ESRI could

Yeah. So Laura. And I actually know Laura, who works for those of you missed it on Laura did was gracious enough to do a facebook live with me. And we talked about comp services due to COVID and getting the services. Because what another issue you know, of course, keep in mind, nobody ever comes to me when things are going well, they only come to me, right? things aren't going well, right? I have to constantly remind myself of that. But a lot of parents are inquiring about comp services like hey, my child missed a year of this and you know, you're have that. And then it's Oh, well, he can go to ies Why then he can go to ies Why? And again, it's about that digging deeper and saying well, but this is what he missed. So what is ies? Why, and and what's going to happen there? And is that sufficient? Because yes, I do see a lot of schools being more generous with offering EFI to students. But again, just bring them in for a couple of hours to do some reading and some math.

Dana Jonson  17:47
Kids don't progress through osmosis. Right? Right, just appearing in the school,

they're not getting that pull out, or they're not getting their therapy, or whatever it is, because I hear all kinds of crazy stuff like, well, we don't do OT and E s y. And like, I don't you know,

Dana Jonson  18:02
any any statement that starts with we don't, is usually incorrect.

The only thing the only one that I will say applies this time is that for as why the school cannot guarantee LRE. But other than that everything apply.

Dana Jonson  18:18
And that's fair, because you can't compel typically developing students to go to a summer program. Right? I do hear that argument, though, for students who really require interaction with typically developing students that truly is what helps their progress and their success in the classroom or the environment that they're in whatever that may be. And so, you know, I often have situations where parents say, Well, why can't they do their ies? Why at a camp? Why can't they do that? And my responses they can, we can absolutely do that, if that's what's necessary. And how do we set that up to make that that argument that that is what your child requires. But that goes back to what you're saying about the individualization. And I think a lot of parents are trained to understand that are taught that this nine to one July program is actually what he is why it is, right. Yeah, you know, that they actually believe that's what it is. So because that's what it's called. And so, you know, when we're looking at extended school year, you know, programs and I hear schools say, well, it's really just about regressions, so we don't have to add anything new. So we're okay here. How do you go about working with parents to come up with creative ways to identify and and obtain those different kinds of extended school years?

Okay, so first of all, it depends. I have to tell you, it honestly depends on what time of year they come to me because the parents who are coming to me now and it is happening now, sometimes time is just not on your side, right? It just isn't, and so to Come to me, you know, Memorial Day or June 15, and say, Oh, well, I'm not happy with this ESP program from a time factor, there's usually not a lot I can do, because what I have always always preached is, you know, look at the present levels, present levels is what drives the IEP. And if this need is not in present levels, it's, then there's not going to be a goal for it. And if there's no goal for it, there's not going to be any supports and services for it. Right. And so that's, that's usually at the core of the issue is that there's an identified need. So then, okay, well, let's get it identified. Well, that takes time. And that's the kind of thing you know, like, he's, like you said, going back to their social skills example, if mom and dad are seeing that the child's struggles with social skills, but he's able to get through school day, and it's not an identified need on an IEP, you know, again, you can't go to the school and say, Well, this is the social skills camp is what he needs for EAS, why? What his child needs is some evaluations to show that he lacks social skills. And that's going to take time, and on June 15, you know, I can't necessarily help you there. So from the school's point of view, what I do always do say to parents, as you know, like, look at these camps, most of them are nonprofits, look for scholarships, look for, you know, go to your Lions Club, though, to your co Ana's club, your rotary and see if they do sponsorships for, you know, children in the community with disabilities. And if they would sponsor this camp for you, if you cannot afford it. And also, you know, if you, I get it, we're guaranteed faith, and that first word is free. But just because our kids are guaranteed fate doesn't mean that if you have a disabled child that you're never ever going to have to pay for anything for them ever again. So you know, some good point, yeah, and some parents are in a position to pay for these things. And that is, you know, what I call the path of least resistance. If I can't help you demonstrate this week, you know, that your child needs social skills, then I just don't really think that's going to be an option for you. Like, we can go through the motions and we can get things started. But the school is under no obligation in most cases to evaluate for this camp starts and things like that.

Dana Jonson  22:09
I've seen that there was like a, as a plan on school districts part is that they make it a little difficult. So for parents who can pay for ies why they just do they just find something and pay for it. And again, the path of least resistance. And I do get that as well. But then I also find that what ends up happening is the people who can't afford to place are stuck and fighting their district. And the district is playing the same game with them. So they're having to push back and they can't afford to push back or to unilaterally place. And that's where we run into trouble. A lot of times, too, when I get that call, I also have to remind parents that hiring me to get the school district to say yes to Yes. Why may cost you more than the EMI program.

Right. A great example is several years ago, I had a family and they wanted this 15 $100 s y program, and we ended up going to mediation. And yes, the girl got it, the female student got the program in mediation that that we wanted. But I mean, I'm sitting there in mediation, looking at this table of like, seven or eight school staff. And it was this time of year. I mean, it was summer had already started school is out. And I thought you know, here, we have a superintendent and me, you know, they're paying me and all these people and to challenge us on a 15 $100 program. So and yes, I certainly acknowledge that, you know, of course, I go off on tangents and talk about this stuff all day. There certainly is a gap in a you know, in public education, certainly between the haves and the have nots. And having a parent pay for a program that they can afford, can exacerbate that gap. And I'm not I don't want to come across as that I'm comfortable with that, like, Oh, well, too bad for you. If you can't afford it, you know, again, that's how I understand Yeah, you can look into, you know, you can try to look into scholarships and things like that. But for the parent who can afford it, like I said, you know, you and I will probably still get one or two more calls this week, from parents. Yeah, from parents who are looking for EMI. And you know, in some cases, when you come to us at this time of year that if you want that program, they're like, well, it starts June 21. Like I These are your options, you sign up and pay for yourself or you know,

Dana Jonson  24:22
well until that point, and I want to be really clear that neither Lisa nor I are giving any legal advice here. Lisa is not an attorney, but I am and I'm not giving legal advice and I don't know your your students situation. But to that point, if a parent were to do that, and go pay for their program themselves, and I always want to make this clear to any parent anytime. If you expect any money back from a district that you spend, you have to go through a very important legal process and document and note it properly. And the most, the most important part is you have to give 10 days notice so Before your child leaves the public school, not before they start the new program, before they leave the public school 10 days beforehand, at least, you must have given notice in writing that the school district did not offer an appropriate program, that you're in disagreement with their program, that you believe this is an appropriate program. And that you will be placing your child there, and that you expect to get reimbursement later that you're preserving your rights to reimbursement. That's very important. I also usually mentioned to parents, if you're spending money, you want to get back, talk to a lawyer, it's that simple. talk to a lawyer is the best way to make sure you've covered your ground. But so for those of you who are listening to us right now and thinking, Oh, I didn't get ies why yet I got to figure that out. Make sure that you talk to somebody, so you're doing it the right way. But for people who already have it in their IEP, and the issue is a dispute of where it is, you know, yes, there are a lot of options. So that kind of brings me to another question that Lisa, which is through your child does qualify and you do get it? Do you have to go? And I get that a lot from parents too, who say I don't want to say no to anything. I don't I don't want to say no, because you don't you don't want the IP to be weakened because you're going to visit grandma for the week. You don't want to not have it in there. So how do you advise parents who asked that question? Do I have to go to ies wire does my child have to

go? I know it's parents spend so much time and it is such a fight some time to get services that they're so they just don't want to decline? Anything that's offered to them. And I get it. I

Dana Jonson  26:31
never did either. I mean, I bore kids with IPS. So I totally understand.

I mean, first of course, ask the special ed director or ask whoever's running the EFI program, you want to know what's going to happen there. Because as I said earlier, you want to make it meaningful, right? If you are going to send your child to school during the summer, which is going to affect you know, the entire household, right? You want to see what's going on? And is it appropriate for your child? Is it going to be meaningful? It's not talked about a lot, but school districts are not actually permitted. And it's not legal advice. But school districts are not permitted to retaliate against parents for refusing services. So in a perfect world, no, that shouldn't be held against you, as we all know what what the statute says and what happens every day is not necessarily the same thing. But no, they're not supposed to retaliate against you are not permitted to retaliate against you for refusing a service. That being said, I haven't This isn't an area where I would necessarily expect to see a lot of retaliation because they the school district has planned their ESP program. They've hired X number of teachers and X number of Paras and they do kind of have a cap on, you know, yep, this is how many kids we're going to offer. Yes. Why to? So being able to cut those numbers back, I wouldn't necessarily expect retaliation in this area, because it is going to save the district money, right? If five parents say no, that might be another pair that they don't have to hire for ESXi. So I wouldn't necessarily be afraid of that. I would you know,

Dana Jonson  28:04
I also find that as wide disputes, and as soon as I say this, it's going to change. I'm going to jinx myself. But I tend to find that because yes, why programs, as you said you're fighting over a 15 $100 program, oftentimes as Why is not as cost prohibitive as a program during the school year. So I find that those disputes are often easier to resolve, because they're short term, they're short lived, and they're not tremendously expensive. So I see the bigger fights for ies wise, when you have a child who really requires a 12 month program, that's usually where we have like the more major disputes, and we don't have that in place. Or for students who require two months of extended school year, not just one,

right, that I that you're right, and that, you know, if they're offering where I see the disputes is the parents who are trying to buck the school with the you know, this, this nine to one monday through thursday camp program isn't appropriate for what my child needs. So and in fact, that 15 $100 program was just that we wanted something at the local university, which was completely appropriate for what this girl needed. And the camp program that the school was offering was not appropriate. So like he said, that's where I see the issues is when parents don't want to do the camp program, and they do want the summer camp or the something else, which in many cases may be really appropriate. You know, if social skills is your biggest is your child's biggest need, you know, but again, it's going back to getting that documented, and is that a you know documented area of need and all that

Dana Jonson  29:34
I often recommend the parents if they are sending their child somewhere else that they explained to the school district how that will address some of the issues for us Why? Because a lot of times going to that summer camp. It's not a special ed camp. It's not providing those educational components, but it will address the special education needs of the child and that's what we're looking for. right we're looking for to address the special education needs of the child. And I think that oftentimes that puts the district at rest to Okay, well, you're doing your thing, but we know that at least that they're getting some services. So when we come back to the table in September, we're still on the same page. You know, school isn't going to say, I can't teach your kid because you didn't send them to us why, right? That's not gonna happen, right? Yeah, I

was for EFI, or for any really, you know, I guess, an alternative si program is really an out of District placement, right? Because you're not doing with the district, in district for any out of District placement, I say, go there, ask them or talk to them read the website, what are they doing at that placement that your child needs, that they are possibly, they're just never going to get that in what the district is offering, right.

Dana Jonson  30:47
And a lot of times, it's the typically developing peers, the role models, the social skills, and I've had school districts send a para to the local camp, if a student was maybe going to the local camp, and the parent was paying for the camp, but maybe the school sent the para, that's not typical. So don't get excited about that. But I have seen it happen that way. I've also seen ies y in the form of like some one on one tutoring.

Yep. Oh, yeah, I've seen a lot of you know, some kids don't need nine to one every day. But they do need to keep up on some things. So once or twice a week might be you know, and now every school district in the country just about is set up to do things virtually. So if your child's needs are strictly academic, you know, maybe they don't need to leave the house, maybe they do only need an hour, a day or an hour a week of some online tutoring, or some you know, instruction or something like that, working with his teacher. Yeah, I mean, just, you know, like you're talking about an out of District, but they sent the para, you know, be creative and think about everything, you know, think about what you can offer them and because it is you know about being collaborative,

Dana Jonson  31:51
and I find that the more options a parent comes to the table with and also though, to your point, understand what your school is offering going in and saying I know you're Yes. Why is canned? And doesn't do anything isn't an argument. Right? It's definitely not a legal argument. But it's also not an argument and you don't have a really good ground to stand on. You know, if you're and I think other parents are great resource, and we need them, and they help you. But you have to get the information yourself.

Yeah, I would ask to see like curriculum or lesson plans or something, because what I've found is a lot of parents will call an IEP meeting to talk about this. And then they say, Well, my child needs this and they go, okay, we do that. And they go, Well, my child needs this. Oh, yeah, we do that they do everything. Right. They do everything in these four hours, right. So it's, it's getting some not just verbal reassurance, but something else that like, you want to know what they're doing each day, I've found that a lot of them are just a lot of fun time to you know, a lot of outdoor games and, and I get it, it's summer, you want to keep things light, but you know, I'm not going to send my kids every day to go play in the playground for four hours, either, you know, because that's not helping him or anyone else. So

Dana Jonson  33:05
right. So yeah, so I think, you know, understanding very thoroughly what the school district is actually offering and what that looks like, it's hard because parents can't observe the ESA, during the school year, because it's not there. So that's a bit challenging. So you do have to rely on other parents and their experiences. But yeah, going to your team and asking them to pull out specifically, what are we working on, I hear a lot of well, it's only to prevent regressions. So it's going to be a lot less, it's going to be minimal. It's going to be all these things. I actually this year had a an PPT or in Connecticut, we call them ppts. But an IEP meeting, where they said the formula we use is and I thought, okay, thank you for sharing, we're going to revisit that. You know, there's no one formula for ESP for every child on the planet. And that is really the key part. And I do believe that a lot of the ESP programs that schools have can address a lot of students needs, but not all of them, right? Not every child and not every need. So we do really need to take those those ideas and those thoughts and think outside the box. I also caution parents that a lot of times I find schools, at least I have found and again, I don't come in unless there's a problem. And there's another attorney at the table. So usually we're there to try and fix the problem. That's the goal. But I find that we can be very creative, and in a way that school districts can't always be at the IP table. So to also be a little flexible with the IEP team. Yeah. Could we could we maybe come to a better agreement outside of this meeting? Because I think we can resolve the issues. You know, if there's an issue and an easy way to resolve it, why wouldn't the school want to

Right, right. I think also, you know, obviously the internet and social media has been a complete game changer for IEP parents, right like One of my mentors has a disabled son who's my age. And so she tells me about in the 70s standing by her mailbox, like literally waiting for this newsletter to get to her home, you know, because that's was the 70s. Right? So it's been a complete game changer, the

Dana Jonson  35:13
fact that she could find a newsletter in the 70s and 80s. I'm really impressed with.

But I think that it's it's been a mixed blessing because I think parents see other parents getting things doing things, and then they think, Oh, my gosh, I have to be doing that. And not every child with an IEP gets ies Why? And not every child with an IEP needs is why and you kind of have to go with your gut, I, you know, go with your gut instinct, and then work on defining that gut instinct, you know, with your IEP team, but it's okay, if your child doesn't need ies Why? Just because you see all these other parents doing it. And I feel like it has become kind of like the latest, like buzz word are out there like, Yeah, do you have Yes. Why do you have vs? Why? What do you know? And it's okay to not go to ies why it's okay. You know, again, it's okay to tell the school No, but it's also okay, if

Dana Jonson  36:04
you can also get your accommodations for your summer packet, you know, so, so your child

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