Take a Look for Yourself

The Wisdom of, and Right to, Observe Your Child’s Current or Proposed Special Education Program

We have all had experiences in our lives where things look different on paper than they do in reality or purported eyewitness accounts of some event turn out to be less than accurate or complete.  As many of us well know, the same can be true of IEPs and progress reports in their description of a student’s special education program.  In 2009, Massachusetts enacted a law to strengthen the right of parents and their evaluators to observe any current or proposed program for their child.  Massachusetts law (M.G.L. ch. 71B, §3; 603 CMR 28.07(1)(a)(3) accords parents, and by extension, their evaluators or consultants, a reasonable opportunity to observe their child’s program or proposed program. The rationale for the law, as delineated in the first sentence of the statute is: “To insure that parents can participate fully and effectively with school personnel in the consideration and development of appropriate educational programs for their child…”  Continue reading

Facilitated IEP Meetings at the BSEA

The Bureau of Special Education Appeals, or the BSEA, is part of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals and has original jurisdiction over all disputes regarding special education in Massachusetts (including claims based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act).  The BSEA provides five avenues for dispute resolution in case of a disagreement between a parent and a school district. 

This is the first in a series of five posts that will discuss the dispute resolution options at the BSEA.

Your child’s annual IEP meeting is coming up and you believe your voice will not be heard or it may get contentious due to past conflict, current controversy, or your future wishes for your child. You question your own ability to keep the meeting on track and feel as though a neutral third party’s presence may be beneficial. What options do you have?

One option, which can be requested by either a parent or a school district, is to ask a facilitator from the BSEA to help with a difficult IEP meeting. Both parties must agree to the facilitator’s presence and the service is free of charge. Continue reading